I used to really like chipmunks. Then I started gardening... As I became a repeat victim of their destructive, seemingly pointless digging and their casual, heart-breaking habit of taking bites out of ripe or partially ripe vegetables, my appreciation of their truly adorable appearance morphed into something approaching hatred.
These pickles represent my revenge on the chipmunk population in our neck of the woods - ALL of whom seem to have developed a real taste for our tomatoes this year. At first they had the good manners to at least drop the tomato and run off the deck when I'd tap on the window but they've since lost all fear. The most they'll do now is hide underneath the wooden box we grow our tomatoes in and they'll only do that if I actually go out and stamp my feet in hopeless rage (a sharp rap on the window no longer accomplishes anything.)
When I went out this morning and found the half-eaten remains of another of our biggest nearly ripe tomatoes, I felt something had to be done. I turned to my community on Facebook for suggestions on how to solve this problem. Suggestions included spreading red pepper flakes around, picking the tomatoes while green, pursuing thermonuclear options, and eating the chipmunks, themselves.
I was intrigued by the idea of picking the green tomatoes as it seemed the most fool-proof (and I have no taste for chipmunk meat) but also knew I would not be frying them all up since my husband and son both actively dislike tomatoes unless they're in sauce form or dried. And this baby is taking up waaaay too much room in my innards to allow me to eat more than a single fried green tomato in one sitting.
BUT I did recall that I'd seen a very simple, appealing-sounding recipe for pickled green tomatoes in my new favorite canning cookbook, Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round.
So I called on my three-year-old to help me pick all the large green tomatoes - a task he agreed to with great gusto since he spends a lot of his time picking everything in the garden, regardless of ripeness, anyway. We gathered up roughly two and a half pounds of green beauties and I carried them inside, using my extra stretchy maternity tank top as a make-shift basket (hurray for ruching! I'm not sure I can ever return to normal clothing...)
The rest was really very easy. Washed the tomatoes. Sliced them.
Boiled some water and sterilized some jars. Peeled some garlic. Heated up some brine. Measured out some spices. Packed the tomatoes in.
Poured some brine. Added lids and bands and boiled them for all of 10 minutes. There was one moment of (minor) tragedy in which one of my pint jars cracked in half about 5 seconds after I immersed it in boiling water but otherwise it was smooth sailing.
In your face, chipmunks!!! (please imagine this delivered in a Homer Simpson voice.) Of course, now the cute little bastards will probably start in on our cucumbers...
Pickled Green Tomatoes
from the Food in Jars cookbook
Makes 3 pint jars
* 2 pounds green tomatoes, stemmed and cut into wedges
* 1 cup white vinegar
* 1 cup water
* 1 Tbsp pickling salt
* 3 teaspoons dill seed
* 6 garlic cloves, peeled
* 3/4 teaspoon peppercorn
* 3 bay leaves
1. Prepare a boiling water bath and sterilize 4 (just to be safe) pint jars. Place the lids in a small sauce pan, cover them with water and simmer over low heat.
2. Combine the vinegar, water and salt in a small pot and bring to a boil.
3. Remove your sterilized jars to a towel lined counter top next to the stove. Place the following into the bottom of each hot, ready-for-canning jar:
-1 teaspoon dill seed
-2 garlic cloves
-1/4 teaspoon peppercorn
-1 bay leaf
4. Pack the green tomato wedges into the jars - wedge them in there as best you can without mangling them. Pour the brine slowly into the jars, leaving 1/2" headspace. Use a wooden chopstick to remove the air bubbles and add a bit of additional brine if necessary. Wipe rims, apply simmered lids and screw on bands.
5. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. When time is up, remove the jars from the canner and let them cool on a towel-lined counter top. When jars are completely cool, remove rings and test seals by grasping the edges of the lid and lifting the jar. If the lids hold fast, the seal is good.
6. Wait at least one week before eating to allow time to cure. Store in a cool, dark place for up to one year.
Not feeling totally confident about canning? Check out my page of canning directions and resources with links to my favorite recipes, cookbooks and canning and preserving web sites.
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