Outside of my family, my friend Mollie is the biggest guinea pig for my culinary experiments, especially of the canned and pickled variety. So when she declares that Green Tomato Pickles are hands down, my best pickle, she would know. It wasn’t until this past summer when she asked for the recipe and started asking questions about the one I handed her that I realized I had sort of made up my own recipe for them. I know, I’m slow on the draw about that, as this is not the first time I’ve realized I’ve made up a recipe unintentionally, after the fact. I promised Mollie I’d get the recipe to her, so here it is.
I have a hard time bringing myself to use green tomatoes for anything past fried green tomatoes until the end of September. (Exceptions made of course for green tomatoes Farmer Brown throws in my boxes.) I’m seeing more green tomatoes being sold down at the farmer’s market regularly, but I know many farmers hold off until they rip their plants out to let go of any green ‘maters. I arranged ahead of time with Maynard at Shady Lane to get a few pounds of green tomatoes this past weekend, as I wanted to ensure my pickled ones had time to set up so I could take Mollie a few jars when I see her in November.
My recipe is a mash-up of “Limed Green Tomato Pickle” from Joy of Pickling and “Pickled Green Tomatoes” from Food in Jars. I use the lime technique from the former to keep the tomatoes crisp, while the spice and brine is based on the latter recipe. The Food in Jar’s recipe makes three pints – I have broken it down to a by-the-pint recipe, similar to the green bean recipe I adore. These pickles do best if you let them cure a bit – I find that when pickle brine is made up mostly of vinegar as this one is, they are best when they sit for at least 4-6 weeks, if not longer.
Pickled Green Tomatoes
Cut tomatoes into wedges. Soak in 3 teaspoons pickling lime per 2 quarts of water overnight. Drain, rinse, cover tomatoes in clean water and soak one hour. Drain, rinse and repeat soaking in fresh water two more times. Pack tightly in jars.
To each jar add:
2 peeled garlic cloves
1 teaspoon dill seed
1/4 teaspoon peppercorns
1 bay leave
Cover in heated brine made of:
1 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon pickling salt
Gently tap jars on towel lined countertop to help remove air bubbles or use a wooden chopstick. (Or both). Leaving a half inch headspace, wipe the rims, apply lids & rings and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.