Tomatoes 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).
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
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.