At this time of year, the vegetable garden is bursting with fresh vegetables and herbs that need to be harvested. I can look out my window right now and see big, juicy heirloom tomatoes ripening on the vine–and I just picked pounds of them early this morning. My countertops are laden with baskets of squash, tomatoes, beans, eggplant, peppers, okra and more. I love it! And I hate to waste any of our beautiful veggies, so we give some away, freeze some, eat lots, and then I pull out my canning supplies and get busy. Canning may sound like an intimidating chore, but for me, it’s a pleasurable activity. There is a meditative quality to preserving, and I find myself slowing down and relaxing during the process. An afternoon’s activity in the kitchen offers a chance to deeply appreciate the harvest, to enjoy the beautiful colors and the rich scents of the herbs and vegetables. And I know that through my efforts, we will relish summer’s bounty throughout the year.
If you have never tried canning or preserving, pickles are a fun and simple way to get started. You can pickle almost any vegetable…squash, peppers, cucumbers, shallots, beans. Today I pickled gorgeous little white currant and Italian Grappoli heirloom tomatoes. The recipe couldn’t be more basic–vinegar, water, salt, tomatoes, garlic and rosemary. In twenty minutes or so, I had four jars of fresh little tomatoes cooling on the counter. I think they’ll be a wonderful adition to an antipasto, with aged cheese, proscuitto, olives, carmelized onions, roasted peppers and eggplant. If you don’t want to go through the trouble of a hot water bath to preserve them, just follow the recipe and put the jars in the fridge. Let them sit for a week and then spill them out on a platter to enjoy with a summer meal.
Pretty Pickled Tomatoes
2 quarts bite-sized, ripe tomatoes, washed and drained
1 quart water
1 cup white wine or white Balsamic vinegar
1 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
Combine the water, vinegars and salt in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Simmer for ten minutes. In the meantime, pack the tomatoes into four hot quart-sized jars, leaving a quarter-inch head-space. Top each jar with a sprig of rosemary and a clove of garlic. Ladle the hot vinegar liquid over the tomatoes and cap. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner, or cool and refrigerate.