"I don't want a pickle, just want to ride on my motorsickle." Arlo Guthrie
Go into any kosher deli worth it's kosher salt, and alongside their honkin' big sandwiches there is a honkin' big kosher pickle. In Chicago you are required to put a pickle spear on the bun with every Chicago Hot Dog. In addition to the spear in the bun, Superdawg, one of my favorite hot dog joints in the world, puts a pickled green tomato in the box with their dawg.
The best part of this pickle recipe is that you can use it on cucumber spears, cucumber slices for sandwiches, or, my fave, green tomatoes, and they can be made in the refrigerator. No lengthy temperature-critical fermentation, and no sterile canning, these refrigerator pickles are almost foolproof. Click here to learn more about the different types of pickles and pickle production methods.
Pickled green tomatoes are my faves, and a great use for end of season tomatoes that never ripened. I like pickled green tomatoes even better than pickled cukes because they have such thick walls, they're always crunchy and juicy. We usually pick them the day before the first hard freeze, because frost can make them mushy.
When you've finished the jar, don't dump the juice. You can add more tomatoes or cukes. After the second use, the brine gets a bit thin, so don't reuse it more than once for veggies, but it makes a fine brine for fried chicken.
Makes. 1 quart jar
Takes. 90 minutes, aging time 1-2 weeks.
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 1/4 cup distilled water
2 tablespoons Morton's kosher salt (click link and read note below)
1 pound firm green tomatoes (about 5 plum tomatoes) or pickling cucumbers (about 4)
1/2 serrano chile, stem removed
6 medium garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in half
4 tablespoons dill seeds
1/2 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
About the tomatoes. They can be any breed, they must be all green, no orange allowed, and they must be cut in half or quarters. I have done this with cherry tomatoes, but for some reason they are not as good as Romas or other pear shaped tomatoes. They must be close to full size meaning those little green pellets that have not begun to form seeds will not work.
You can use cukes. If you want to do cucumber pickles, buy pickling cukes. They are usually 4-6" long and have small seeds and crunchy skins. They should be cut lengthwise into halves or spears. You can leave them whole, but they will take longer.
About the water. You can usually find distilled water in the grocery or drug store. Distilled water is best because it it purer and impurities can impart odd flavors, but, unless you have strong tasting tap water, it usually works fine.
About the salt. If you use table salt you must to cut the quantity in half! Click here to learn more about salt for an explanation.
About the chile pepper. The idea here is you want just a little heat in the background so 1/2 a serrano works perfectly. I often use 4 to 6 small hot chiles per quart, each no bigger than a marble, usually Black pearls or fiestas, which we grow outdoors in pots in the summer, and bring indoors over winter. But they are hard to find, so serranos or jalapeños will work fine. If you can't find fresh peppers, you can use 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
About the vinegar. You must use distilled vinegar. Any other vinegar imparts too many odd flavors.
1) Make sure you have a really clean bottle and lid. The lids must have good rubber seals. The best thing to do is buy canning jars and lids from Ball. They are in a lot of hardware and grocery stores. Sterilize them by submersing them in a boiling water bath.
2) Add the garlic, dill seeds, and peppercorns to the jar.
3) Thoroughly wash the cukes and tomatoes and slice them in halves or quarters. Cut out all bad spots and the stem ends. Cram them in the jar leaving about 1/2" - 3/4" of space at the top.
3) Make the brine by combining the vinegar, water, and salt in a non-reactive sauce pan or pot. Bring to a boil, and stir until all the salt is dissolved.
4) Pour the hot brine over the tomatoes to within 1/4" of the top. Wipe the jar top, put the lids on and tighten. Age for at least 1 week in the refrigerator.
Beware. The brine will taste very salty at first, but don't panic. The juices from the tomatoes or cukes will dilute the concentration of salt in a week or 2.