We’ve had no shortage of cucumbers and tomatoes this summer. So much that I’ve had to try my hand at preserving some of it.
Since this is our first time gardening, I fully expected more than half of what we planted to die. And I was correct! I did not inherit my mother’s green thumb or my father’s farming skills. I got the worst of the deals with a pair of brown thumbs.
So after spending a few months researching how to garden, how to grow organically, how to build garden beds, and how to nurture crops, and then spending weeks planning out our garden, we jumped in with a good deal of book knowledge, but no actual hands-on skill.
I decided to order both tomato seeds and tomato transplants from a couple of reputable organic and heritage seed companies. I also picked up a couple of transplants from the local organic garden nursery. In total, I planted 14 tomato plants, expecting most (if not all) to die under my earthy-brownness.
To my surprise, 12 plants have survived, though not all of them have thrived. Eight of the 12 are thriving and producing lots of fruit for us to enjoy. The rest are still hanging on, though not exactly thriving. Here are a couple of pictures that speak volumes about this.
Before I go any further, the white stuff is diatomaceous earth. I planted that tomato transplant and the purple basil about a month prior to this picture being taken. When the transplants arrived, they were about 4-inches tall.
These four tomato plants were planted on the same day, same shipment of tomatoes, same size as the other upon arrival, and this picture was taken on the same day as the other. I realized too late that I needed tomato cages, so I had to prop up the plants using what I had, which was chicken wire!
Since then, these four thriving tomato plants have grown over the 4-foot trellis we built, and actually doubled over. They are currently 8 feet tall!
So in getting more tomatoes than we can really consume, I started to can a few. I came across a recipe (on Pinterest of course) that used slightly underripe tomatoes. It looked interesting to me, and I figured why not since I have no shortage of tomatoes to experiment with. Here is the recipe I found.
Of course when I fix anything at home, I never follow the recipe. I love to add essential oils if possible, and I love to experiment. Sometimes it works out well, and other times not so much. But this time, it worked out well.
These little cherry bombs are quickly becoming one of our favorite ways to eat snacking tomatoes.
First, gather some underripe cherry-type tomatoes. I didn’t want to make a huge batch of this since I didn’t know if we would like it. I tried to gather roughly 1 pint worth of tomatoes in a variety of colors and ripeness. The recipe says specifically to use underripe tomatoes because ripe ones will cause the sugar to turn to alcohol in the fermentation process. IDK, maybe you want that, but I kinda wanted my kids to enjoy these, too.
Not pictured, I also added a few leaves of fresh basil from the garden. My parsley was one of the casualties under the burnt-sienna-thumb-oppression, so I did not have any fresh parsley to add.
Make a brine with about a tablespoon of canning or kosher salt for every 1 cup of water you need. Since I was only making one pint, I added the tomatoes to the jar and filled it with water to measure how much water I would need. I decided to add a teensy-weensy smidgen of citric acid to mine. You can skip this if you’d like, it’s not in the original recipe.
Rinse your tomatoes and basil well. You can see mine pictured still had some DE (diatomaceous earth) on them. This is not harmful for you or your pets/livestock. It’s only harmful to soft-bellied critters that want to eat your labor.
Into your jar, add as many cloves of garlic as you’d like. Mine were kinda small, so I added two. I also smashed them up a bit first.
Into the jar, add your other spices: I added coriander seeds that I pulled from my cilantro, also peppercorns, mustard seeds, and dill seeds. About 1/4 teaspoon of each.
Next I added my favorite essential oils. I thought a great way to add the punch of flavor was to use oils that matched the seeds I added. I chose not to add cilantro essential oil, even though I have some. I didn’t want it to overpower the other flavors, so I left it out. I added 1 drop of each oil: basil, black pepper, and dill.
Finally, fill your jar with the tomatoes and top off with the brine, leaving about 1/2 an inch at the top. If you have a weight to add to the jar to keep everything in the brine, use it. I did not have one so mine just get to float around freely in all their glory.
I didn’t realize how much extra space I was going to have here, otherwise I shoulda thrown in another handful of maters. But look how pretty!
The recipe called to let this sit in a dark corner for about a week, covered with a towel. But to sample them every few days. After about 4 or 5 days we finally sampled one and man o man what a flavorful and delicious treat! And just like the original recipe says, they explode in your mouth.
My youngest son is excited about having more of these. So we picked a small basket of underripe tomatoes this morning. He also insisted on picking that one big green one because he wants to try fried green tomato tonight.
I think when I make these again, I may add some apple cider vinegar to the brine, just out of curiosity to see how they come out.
And just so you know, we are picking plenty of ripe ones for snacking, too!
I mentioned earlier that we have no shortage of cucumbers, too. So far, I’ve made 13 jars of pickles! We’ve loved experimenting with those as well. Right now we have bread and butter chips, crunchy dill spears, dill stackers, and sweet gherkins.
My son really wants us to make a relish next, but I’ve got my heart set on making some cucumber kimchi. I think our cucumbers are nearing the end of their season. They look to be dying back a bit and the leaves are yellowing and it is no longer flowering. That’s ok, I’m ready to be done with cucumbers for a little while. Plus, they choked out and killed all my beans!
Thanks for stopping by 122 today. Leave me a comment if you try this recipe or if you have a favorite way that you use extra tomatoes.