Monday, October 10, 2011

Vinegary Green Tomatoes

It's a funny thing when a memory of someone speaks to you in an unexpected way.  I'm sure you've had the experience of driving in your car when a song playing on the radio triggers thoughts of someone.  Or maybe it's an old photo, a family recipe, or in my case, a favorite food.  That's exactly what happened when I received three oversized green tomatoes in my CSA share on Saturday.  Green tomatoes for me signal only one thing: my grandfather.  I still have images of him standing in his kitchen, leaning against the counter, a  jar of vinegar tomatoes in one hand, and a fork in the other.  He'd slowly work his way down the jar while we laughed together.  The memory is so vivid.  I can picture his mannerisms, one foot crossed over the other, his expression, and the feeling I felt being in that room.   He had a thing for salt and vinegar flavors and a jar of vinegar green tomatoes hit on both notes.  Never bothered by imperfection, he'd serve them up alongside his famous burnt grilled cheese sandwiches.

And just when you thought my tomato posts were over, here I am in October gushing over green tomatoes.  Green tomatoes are beautiful in their own right, firm, unripe, needing a little love.  The last one I sliced open revealed a muted pink hue on the inside.  For many of you, maybe fried green tomatoes come to mind.  Now, I'm no southern belle, and I've never had fried green tomatoes, so if you have a recipe, send it along.  I'll also admit that I've never seen the movie, which I believe is one of the ultimate chick flicks.  I am however, all about vinegary green tomatoes and have a thing for mason jars.  This version is a take on a recipe from an old family friend.  It's jotted down in pen on a small piece of paper residing in my mothers' recipe collection that's been folded again and again.  The edges are slightly worn with some vinegar stains along the writing, but it works like a charm every time.  I've altered it here and there over the years.  This is a small batch version and makes three jars.

I set up a little assembly line.  Using three mason jars, I drop the goods into the bottom of each jar; a smashed clove of garlic, sea salt, and dill weed.  If you wanted some heat, go right ahead and add a jalapeno or maybe crushed red pepper flakes.  Green peppers also work well, as do onion slices.  I went pure and simple with solely green tomatoes.  A mixture of apple cider vinegar and water are brought to a boil and poured into each of the jars.  The tomatoes are best in a few days after the flavors have a chance to hang out together, and good for a little over a week or so.  I prefer mine less salty with a good deal of vinegar punch, which these deliver.  I also refrain from adding sugar.  Crunchy and cold right out of the fridge, I can never eat just one.  I wish my grandfather and I could share a jar of these together.  Although I miss those moments in his kitchen, I'm happy that a few green tomatoes sent me back to reminisce about the times we shared together.  I'm planning on polishing off a jar of these in his honor.  

~Vinegary Green Tomatoes Recipe~

3-5 large green tomatoes (depending on size and variety you have)
3 cloves garlic, smashed
3 tsp dried dill weed
3 tsp sea salt
4 cups apple cider vinegar
4 cups water
You'll also need three mason jars.

Core and slice tomatoes into wedges.  In the bottom of the three jars, add to each jar; 1 smashed garlic clove, 1 tsp dried dill weed, and 1 tsp sea salt.  Divide the tomatoes evenly among the jars, leaving a bit of room at the top.  In a saucepan, bring apple cider vinegar and water just to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Using a funnel, pour the vinegar/water mixture into each of the three jars.  Allow the jars to cool before placing the lids on.  Store in your refrigerator.  I let these go for a few days and periodically shake them up as I meander into the fridge. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mmmm these look yummy! I want to try this with carrots, that's always sounded so good to me. I loved the story of you and your grandfather, too. Isn't it nice when stories and memories are so connected with food?