September 18, 2010

Green Tomatoes, Fried or Otherwise

If you are living in the Pacific Northwest right now, you already know exactly what I am talking about. This summer has been ridiculous. If we had gotten even 3 weeks of solid heat and sun, then my post's title would be "50 lbs of Tomatoes" and the recipe would be for marinara sauce. But NO - this is all about the lovely green tomato.

Seriously though, I have never had more tomatoes on the vine than this year. We were set up for gallons of marinara sauce, which I need because I go through gallons every year. It's now mid-September and the rains have begun and there is no way I'm going to get even one red tomato. Actually that's a lie. We got two red tomatoes. One is a big heirloom that turned orange-ish and the rains hit and it split right up the side. It's sitting on my windowsill attempting to red-up. The other was one little cherry tomato and I popped right in my mouth and thoroughly enjoyed it.

My mom and I decided to do three things with the green tomatoes. First, we harvested all that were hanging outside the cages around each bush. These we pickled (more to come about that). Second, for the tomatoes that remained on the vine we decided to experiment with clear plastic. This plastic was purchased by my dad for hunting season. During elk hunting the guys create these clear plastic rooms off of each RV in camp. They always need more clear plastic and more 2 x 4's. Tough, we're talking tomatoes here! About 25 feet of the plastic got placed over the 8 tomato plants. We doubled it for extra insulation, hoping the heat will make those little Romas ripen. I'll report on the results in a couple weeks. Third, I put about 15 large tomatoes in a paper bag by the fridge, where the heat escapes underneath. Again, I'll report if this works at all.
The ones we harvested got pickled. We did the following: 12 pints dilled slices, 12 pints spicy dilled slices, 12 pints rosemary cherries. It took about 4 hours total, which is one less than the relishes I made last weekend - the benefit of having a partner-in-crime when canning. Here is the one of the best recipes I've ever found for green tomatoes:

Dilled Green Tomatoes
Makes 6 pints

5 lbs small, green Roma tomatoes
1/4 c pickling salt
3 c vinegar
4 c water
6 garlic cloves
6 t dill seeds
6 bay leaves

Cut tomatoes into slices, about 1/8 inch thick. In a large sauce pan, combine salt, vinegar and water. Bring to boil, then turn off the heat. Pack tomatoes into hot pint jars leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Add 1 garlic clove, 1 teaspoon dill seed and 1 bay leaf to each jar. Ladle hot liquid over tomatoes, leaving 1/4-inch headspace, and secure the lids. Process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.

Notes - To make spicy, add 1/8 teaspoon of red pepper flakes to each jar. You can double or triple (as I did) this recipe.

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