Pickled green tomatoes — made by his Gramma B. — were one of my father’s favorite snacks growing up, especially when accompanied by a thickly buttered slice of Italian bread. Many years ago, I developed the odd habit of deliberately eating the favorite foods of the people I love and miss, whether they were gone or just far away. The visceral experience of tasting flavors and textures loved by someone I care about somehow makes me feel closer to them. Since my Dad passed away from pancreatic cancer a few years ago, indulging in some of his favorite foods has kept his spirit close to me. I find it strangely comforting.
As the summer draws to a close, I find myself remembering pickled green tomatoes — a great way to use up the end of the season’s fruit which may not get a chance to ripen on the vine. I hadn’t intended to grow tomatoes in the garden this year, but early in the season, our CSA included tiny “Golden Nugget” cherry tomato seedlings as part of our weekly share. So, I ended up with one, lone tomato plant after all. The hardy little thing thrived among the herbs, and we enjoyed the golden nuggets throughout the summer. Last weekend, I found the plant heavy with over two dozen plump, green tomatoes which probably would not ripen before the first frost.
Sliced in half, the tomatoes just fit into an 8-oz mason jar: one perfect little jar of green tomato pickle, one perfect little jar of tangy memories of my much-missed Dad.
Italian Pickled Green Tomato
This recipe is adapted from Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s recipe for Italian Farmhouse Green Tomato Pickle at The Splendid Table.
green cherry tomatoes, halved, enough to fill an 8-oz. mason jar (about 2 dozen)
2 tsp salt
splash olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 large sprig (about 4 leaves) fresh mint, finely chopped
2 large sprigs (about 8 leaves) basil, finely chopped
white vinegar, enough to cover tomatoes in jar
Halve the cherry tomatoes, toss them with 2 tsp salt in a glass bowl, cover, and refrigerate 24 hours. Pour the tomatoes into a colander, rinse quickly under cold, running water, and drain. In a small bowl, toss the tomatoes with a splash of olive oil, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, mint, and basil. Pour the tomato mixture into a glass mason jar that has been sterilized with boiling water. Pour enough white vinegar into the jar to cover the tomato mixture. Seal the jar and store in the refrigerator. The pickle will be ready to eat in 4 days. Keep any remaining tomatoes covered with additional vinegar, and they will keep for up to 6 months in the refrigerator. Naturally, once you taste them, they will not actually last that long!