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Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012 12:02 pm

Paul Virant’s Sweet Pickled Cherry Tomatoes

Virant says this pickle is reminiscent of his childhood spent just north of St. Louis:  “My grandmother made this tomato salad that she canned; I reproduced those flavors with this pickle.”  Virant uses the cherry tomatoes “as is” for garnishes and accompaniments, but also blends equal parts of the pickled tomatoes with their brine and olive oil in a food processor or blender to make a vinaigrette.
  • 8 c. cherry tomatoes, any variety or combination of varieties, stems removed.  
  • 5 tsp. dill seeds
  • 1 T. lightly crushed/cracked black peppercorns, or more or less to taste
  • 10 fresh dill or tarragon sprigs
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 4 c. Champagne vinegar or other mild white wine vinegar, such as unseasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/4 c. water
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 T. Kosher salt
Wash the tomatoes well, then prick each a couple of times with a needle that’s been sterilized in boiling water for 15 minutes. (Pricking the tomatoes keeps them from floating to the top of the jars.) Set aside to drain.

Heat a dry (a.k.a. ungreased) small skillet, then add the dill seeds and peppercorns and toast just until they’re fragrant. This should only take a few seconds.  Remove from the heat and divide the spices equally between five clean wide-mouth pint jars, using approximately 1 1/2 tsp. per jar. Put two dill or tarragon sprigs in each jar, as well as one garlic clove, halved or quartered depending on their size.   

Pack the tomatoes evenly among the jars, equally distributing their various colors and shapes evenly between the jars.   

In a large wide-bottomed, non-reactive pot, bring the vinegar, water, sugar and salt to a boil, and cook a couple of minutes until the sugar and salt are dissolved.  Unless your pan has a spout, transfer to a heatproof pitcher.  Immediately pour over the tomatoes, leaving a half-inch space from the jars’ rims.  Check for air pockets; add more brine if necessary to fill in gaps.  Wipe the rims with a clean towel, and screw on the bands.  Let come to room temperature, then refrigerate. The tomatoes are ready to eat in two weeks, and will keep, refrigerated, for several months.

Makes 5 pints.

Adapted with permission from The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking with Pickles, Preserves, and Aigre-doux by Paul Virant with Kate Leahy, copyright © 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
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