Cherry Tomatoes Preserved in Vinegar

tomatoes in vinegar prepTomatoes of all shapes, sizes and colors are piling up in my kitchen. The cherry types are particularly prolific at the moment. In browsing my rather large cookbook selection I recently stumbled upon a book I’ve had for 10+ years but have never really looked at. Keeping Food Fresh: Old World Techniques and Recipes from the Gardeners and Farmers of Terre Vivante.

The book has a forward by famed farmer Eliot Coleman and covers preserving with oil, vinegar, alcohol, salt, sugar, by lactic fermentation and drying; in other words methods that don’t need much, if any, energy to prepare and none to store. It caught my attention this year for a variety of reasons: 1) I have a smaller freezer than I used to; 2) with all the earthquake perparedness talk I’m thinking more about preserves that don’t rely on electricity to stay edible; and 3) the crazy heat is inspiring more awareness around energy use a (and its link to our warming planet).

tomatoes in vinegar

I just put up these jars of cherry tomatoes in vinegar with tarragon, white pepper, coriander and cloves. I will report in six weeks, when they are supposed to be ready to try, though they will keep for many months.  A few weeks ago I started a half-gallon jar of lactic-fermented pickling cucumbers upon which I’ll report as well.

The recipes I’ve perused, all contributed by farmers and cooks in France and Belgium, are easy to follow but a bit vague. If you’re comfortable in the kitchen and don’t mind thinking a long and using your own judgement occasionally I think you’ll find it useful. I’m eager to try many more recipes, including lacto-fermented tomato sauce, long-cooked jams, tomatoes preserved in salt and oil, etc.

Cherry Tomatoes in Vinegar
–adapted from Keeping Food Fresh

Yields about 1 1/2 quarts (I used one quart and one pint jar)

2 lbs cherry tomatoes, stems on if possible, gently washed and dried
10 tarragon leaves
10 white peppercorns
10 coriander seeds
6 cloves
3 generous pinches of sea salt
Just under a quart of vinegar (I used a combination of rice, white and cider since I didn’t have enough of any one of them)
1 sterilized quart jar and pint jar (or three pint jars, etc.)

Prick each tomato 2-3 times with a thin sewing needle. Gently pack the tomatoes in the jars adding the tarragon and spices here and there. Finish with a bit of salt and pour vinegar over to cover. Screw on lids and store in a cool, dark place. After six weeks they will be ready to eat. They are supposedly excellent with hot or cold poached fish, grain dishes and rich terrines.

Can’t Keep Up with the Cucumbers?!

I just barely am! And in great part it’s thanks to this simple, delicious technique. I’ve made versions of this quick-pickled dish for years but Lynne Curry’s version in Pure Beef is my latest inspiration. They’re delicious within 20 minutes of making and stay crisp and bright for a week.

Whittle down that pile of cukes and find yourself snacking on these, putting them on burgers or any sandwich, enjoying them with rice or grilled tofu.

Quick-pickled Cucumbers
–adapted from Pure Beef by Lynne Curry

quick pickled cucumber salad

This is perfect alongside a good hamburger or some thinly sliced flank steak or meatloaf (as Lynne does) or with rice or other grains or seafood or just as a snack.

2 medium cucumbers, washed but not peeled unless the skin is very thick
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (or more, to taste)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce (or tamari)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch or two of red pepper flakes

Slice the cucumbers in half lengthwise and use a teaspoon to scrape out the seeds and discard. Slice the cucumber haves very thin on the diagonal and put them into a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, salt and pepper flakes until the sugar dissolves. Pour the dressing over the cucumbers, stir, and let the flavors develop at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

A Tribute to Henry

Henry dog

Henry ran off the path in to the woods just a few days ago and returned with an apple in his mouth. He loved fruit. He was my mother’s faithful companion for almost 15 years. Henry, whom my mother referred to as a puppy his whole life, decided it was time to call it quits yesterday. He was buried with a big, sweet Gravenstein apple.

He lived a glorious life out in the woods and loved my mother so. In his old age he’d bark incessantly if someone was talking to her and keenly felt the competition of the new grand child in the house. He stuck close to her right heal most days. Henry you will be missed!

Go eat a beautiful piece of fruit in his honor or make a peach cobbler or an apple pie!