I wouldn’t typically be writing about canning tomatoes – any kind of tomatoes – at this time of year. But lately, I’ve taken jars of my Pickled Cherry Tomatoes to my Preserving Now classes. I always take something preserved as a tasting treat during my class breaks. During the Fall, it was Tomato Jam (recipe here), always a crowd pleaser!
But I ran out of the jam a few classes ago and grabbed a colorful jar of the Pickled Cherry Tomatoes instead. Both go well with Crostini or Crackers and Goat Cheese, my favorite go-to appetizer. And it helps introduce the idea that so many things can be pickled besides cucumbers!
Christina’s husband had surprised her with a gift certificate last Christmas for a Preserving Party. She gathered a few friends and I had the pleasure of joining them for some fun in the kitchen. I love this picture of her “cradling” her baby of newly canned tomatoes.
And no wonder! Most of us love Cherry Tomatoes anyway. But add some pickling liquid, a bit of red pepper flakes, other spices — and it becomes a surprise in the mouth.
At least here in Atlanta lately, it hasn’t been hard to find organic cherry tomatoes (organic is always my choice for tastiest, healthiest) at both a local indoor farmers market here and often in other local food stores like Whole Foods. I have found that they don’t suffer the no-taste syndrome of the former big ag producers’ offerings of the past who pick green and ship/store for weeks. Organic seems to always be picked close to ripeness, so the taste is fully developed.
So here’s my recipe for Pickled Cherry Tomatoes. Use any kind of small cherry or (my preference) grape tomatoes. Those beautiful pear shaped Sungolds are one of my favorites or the newly discovered Black Cherry tomatoes. A mixture of colors is really fun, too.
Besides using on an appetizer plate, throw a few into a tossed salad, or cut into halves for mixing into a potato salad. And I also add here a recipe for making a great vinaigrette using either a full half-pint jar with the tomatoes or just the leftover pickling liquid. How great is that? Tasty!
Pickled Cherry Tomatoes
Makes about 2 pints (Recipe may be doubled).
3 cups small tomatoes such as SunGold, Black Cherry or an assortment, ripe but firm
2 cloves peeled garlic
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1 tablespoons tarragon or 2 sprigs fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh lime or lemon juice
1 cup white or apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons organic raw or cane sugar
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional). Increase to 1 teaspoon for more heat, if desired.
Wash jars and place them (without lids) in a water-bath canner. Bring to boiling and reduce heat to simmer until ready to use.
Puncture bottom of each tomato with a sharp instrument such as a skewer or fork tine. This helps the pickling liquid flavor the whole tomato more completely. Set aside.
In a non-reactive pot, bring vinegar, tarragon, mustard seeds, lemon or lime juice, sugar, salt and red pepper flakes (if using) to a boil. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, remove jars to clean cloth or countertop. Place one clove of garlic in each jar and divide dill into each jar. Then pack in tomatoes tightly but being careful not to crush them. Tuck a bay leaf into each jar. Carefully ladle hot pickling liquid into each jar, leaving ½ headspace. Using a bubbler or table knife, loosen air bubbles and re-fill to allowable headspace. Wipe rims, fit lids and bands. Process in water bath for 10 minutes after water returns to boiling. Remove and let cool for 12 hours. Test lids after 1 hour and refrigerate any that have not sealed. Label and date. Store in cool, dark place.
In a 1 quart Mason Jar, puree 1 jar of pickled tomatoes with an immersion blender. Or puree in a blender or food processor. Reduce by 1/3 by heating in saucepan over medium heat. Return liquid to the Mason jar and then blend in olive oil (about 1/2 cup) until emulsified. Add 1 tablespoon capers if desired. Use in salads, over greens and other vegetables.