Every year, I try to do something with the excess tomatoes before they rot or need to be plowed under. In years past it might have been tomato pesto with the big round tomatoes or chunky marinara sauce with the firm meaty Roma tomatoes. This year I got thrown a curve ball – grape tomatoes.
While I’ve enjoyed my daily breakfast snack while walking Nick, I had no idea what to do to preserve these little bites.
I don’t know who gave me the suggestion but I started reading about Tomolives. That is a brand name for pickled grape tomatoes. The goal is to end up with a salty pickle that can be used like an olive in hors d’oeuvres or even a cocktail.
It turns out getting green tomatoes is a lot faster and easier than ripe red ones so I picked up about 15 lbs.
The recipes are quite varied so I will share what I did. My recipe is 1 part planning and 3 parts scrambling do work with what I had on hand.
I ended up canning 12 quarts and 12 pints
lots of washed and de-stemmed grape tomatoes
1 gallon white vinegar
22 oz pickling salt (sea salt or any other salt without additives)
1 big handful of fresh dill (I only had a small bunch so I used a bunch of dry as you’ll read in a moment)
2-3 oz mustard seeds
2oz pepper corns (you choose)
3 large garlic cloves
spices (little dried red chilis, Pequin chilis, fresh chilis, coriander seeds, you get the idea)
First step is tedious as you need to wash all the tomatoes and remote any stems. The tomatoes I had were still mostly holding onto their stems so I spent an hour in the sink.
I used this time to run all of the jars through the dishwasher to clean and sterilize them along with the rings. DON’T run the tops through the dishwasher!
The liquid mixture you want is 3:2:0.5 for vinegar, water, salt. You’ll scale is up as needed to fill the jars. Start making the first batch now and it may as well be a double.
I peeled all of the garlic and divided it across all 18 jars with the quart jars getting more than the pints (but not even attempting to do the whole 2:1 thing).
I filled all of the jars with the washed green tomatoes and added the garlic to each jar somewhere in the middle (unless I forgot, in which case the garlic ended up near the top).
I had a big green chili of some sort on hand so I removed the seeds and sliced it into strips. I wanted to experiment so 9 jars received this chili. All the jars received mustard seeds and all but three received coriander. 9 jars also received 5-7 little dried Pequin chilis. I didn’t have any little dried red chilis and the local store was out as well.
Since I had woefully too little fresh dill, I decided against trying to put a sprig of dill in each jar. Instead, I diced it all up and tossed it in the first batch of the liquid as I was bringing it to a boil. Then I divided that batch of liquid across all of the jars. I followed that with some dry loose dill on top of each jar, knowing it would get washed down with the next round of liquid.
I finished by making enough batches of the liquid to fill each jar to witching 1/2″-1/4″ of the top.
I read that water bath canning the Tomolives required 10 minutes. I dutifully did the entire 10 minutes on the first batch of jars. It COOKED the Tomolives and some looked like they split. So, I experimented with some at 10 minutes, some at 7′ and some at 5. I marked the tops of e jars since it will be months before I know if any of this actually works.