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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Pickled Tomatoes with Rosemary

 I can find any excuse to use any of these ingredients: tomatoes (little,bitty cutesy various color tomatoes...compact goodness),rosemary (woodsy,fresh,beautiful green rosemary),garlic (or as Emeril calls it "gaahh-lick),balsamic vinegar (mmmm slightly sweet,brugundy balsamic it) and mason jars (clear,transluscent,tapered at the top mason jars...not nearly as sexy as the culinary ingredients listed above).

Yeah I know mason jars,Ball jars,canning jars aren't nearly as sleek as rosemary,fresh as tomatoes or as sultry as balsamic vinegar but folks when those gorgeous glass jars hold pickled tomatoes,they are the best looking thing since sliced bread...or in this case sliced mozzarella.
Just wait and see.

   I have found that when word gets out to those friends and loved ones, that you are canning/preserving ,well it's over with. Done.
Jars show up at every direction and at every turn you have new best friends.Not tons,but a handful of loyal pals hang around to see what recipe you are going to can next.I have been blessed with some of those friends who provide jars for me to can in and I repay their generosity a few months later with some preserved goody. It all works out for both of us.

One sweet,generous person in particular is my husband's aunt.She loves me,my creativity and the fact that I share with her my canning adventures. I've mentioned we moved closer to my husband's family and that includes his sweet aunt.I stopped by the other day to pick up a few things from her,on the way to my car she handed me a box of half-pint jars and this canning magazine... a really neat canning magazine that has some fine recipes in it. the first recipe I turned to was a recipe for Pickled Pear Tomatoes with Rosemary.
It was love at first site. The 2011 canning season had now begun and with the pickled jewels the summer was lookin' good.
I found these jewels at the farmers market two Saturdays in a row and I really felt like I had hit the jackpot.The color was just stunning and the flavor even better. I picked up some simple,classic red grape tomatoes at the grocery along with the other ingredients for the recipe and it was time to get canning.
The ingredients list was pretty straight-forward : tomatoes,sweet onion,crushed red pepper flakes,garlic,white balsamic vinegar,water,sugar,fresh rosemary,various peppercorns and bay leaves.Now wait a dang minute white balsamic vinegar! I knew what it was and lovely as it is,I knew in my neck of the woods it wasn't cheap.So the back up plan went into effect : I would use half white balsamic vinegar and half regular balsamic vinegar.The pickling liquid would not be clear as in the picture,but the flavor would be outstanding! Yay!
  Toss together the tomatoes,sliced onions,sliced garlic, and red pepper flakes. Simple as that,next is was the pickling liquid.
So yeah that part about the pickling liquid not being clear,absolute fooey,ka-put,old news. The prettiest pickling liquid I have seen yet and the smell intoxicating (...a bit strong,but hey for vinegar it smelled delicious).

  After mixing up the liquid part of the recipe,heat up your jars,pack them full with the tomato/onion/garlic mixture and carefully pour your vinegar mixture over the tomatoes and screw on the lids.Process the jars in a hot-water bath for 15 minutes and cool on a wire rack.

  I tell you this recipe on a Thursday so this gives you enough time to plan your grocery/farmers market list for the weekend.The farmers market list should include: some amazing cherry,pear or grape tomatoes,some sort of sweet onion (Vidalia or Walla Walla will do you right) and pick up some garlic too.The summertime garlic is so fresh and so hard to pass up.
 On that grocery list don't forget to include: some mozzarella,. Now some times in this crazy,unpredictable canning world things can happen. Awful,bad,not so great my case none of those sort of things happened. Yes all but one of my jars "took" i.e. sealed and yes that might be viewed in some circles as "not great." It meant to me that I got to enjoy one of those jars of pickled tomatoes EARLY!!! 

  I have a solid rule : I don't open or give away any jar with anything in it that is currently in season.
In other words,I would not have normally enjoyed a jar of these pickled tomatoes until sometime in November,or heck February. You can enjoy fresh tomatoes in the summertime when they are in season,all season long. In November,not so many fresh,tasty tomatoes hanging around,so a jar of summer tomatoes pickled in balsamic vinegar WHAT A TREAT! Point made.   On this random occasion,one jar didn't "take" and I broke out the mozzarella and had one heck of a snack. I even had some tomatoes over a bowl of mixed green and drizzled a little balsamic vinegar over the greens and had one heck of a salad. Enjoy!

Pickled Tomatoes with Rosemary
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
special interest issue Canning
 makes 7-8 half-pint jars
5 cups pear-shaped or round tomatoes
1 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
6 cloves garlic,thinly sliced
1 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 1/4 cup burgundy balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
3 TBL pickling salt
1 TBL fresh rosemary leaves
1 1/2 TBL various color peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1. Wash of tomatoes.In a large bowl,toss together the tomatoes,onion,crushed red pepper and garlic.Set aside.
2.In a large stainless steel,enamel, or nonstick heavy saucepan,combine vinegar,the water,sugar,salt, rosemary,peppercorns and bay leaf. Bring to a boil,stirring until the sugar dissolves,reduce the heat. Simmer,uncovered for 10 minutes,stirring often. remove from the heat and discard the bay leaf.
3. Heat up your jars in your boiling water bath ( water should be at least 185 degrees),take out the jars carefully with a jar-grabber and set on a towel. Pack the tomato/onion mixture into the jars,pour the vinegar mixture over the tomatoes,leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe rims clean,adjust and screw on lids to finger-tight.
4. Process filled jars in a boiling-water bath for 15 minutes (start timer when water returns to a full boil). Remove jars from canner to a wire rack. Allow to cool at least 12 hours up to 24 hours (this gives the jars time to completely cool and the seal to adhere completely (assuring fresh tomatoes mid-November).

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