My tomatoes this year were a bit of a bust. Oh well, I’m still learning this stuff, hard as it is to admit. I feel like I should be an old pro, having grown up here where the garden is an integral part of life. 18 years of city living trained me for other things, like how to look tough walking down a bad street, how to find serenity in a crowd of people, and where to find the best pizza/burrito/hoagie at 2 AM. But it did not teach me how to make dirt that will sustain tomato plants through the entire summer.

My plants started out vigorous and ecstatic, clearly enjoying the chicken manure and organic fertilizer I used to supplement the soil.  They got huge fast and were covered in fruits. But they quickly petered out, and I never experienced the abondanza I had dreamed about. I got one really good crop, the first round to ripen, and that was about it.  After that they plants all got leggy and pale, and the few fruits that set wouldn’t ripen.  And then there was the incident with the deer.  Ah well, I have years of gardens ahead of me to get this right.

When this cold snap hit, I had a lot of green fruits still on the vine: Cherokee Purple, Roma, and Brandywines. I decided I need to make some use of them, given my meager yield overall, so I made green tomato pickles.

The recipe was simple, an amalgam of recipes I found online. The basic trick is to wash and quarter the tomatoes and then toss them in salt and let them sit overnight in the fridge. Then rinse and toss with whatever seasonings you want to use. For one batch I used garlic, fresh mint and basil, and Thai peppers. For the other I used garlic, fresh tarragon, and black peppercorns. You just pack the seasoned tomatoes into mason jars (sterilized) and cover with white wine vinegar, then pop them in the fridge. They are very sour, but very flavorful. Last night we had some as an appetizer, beside a selection of cheeses and sourdough bread, as you would a dish of olives. Not exactly the pantry full of ruby red tomato sauce I’d hoped for, but at least I’ll still be enjoying my garden all winter long!

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