Too Many Tomatoes!! - Tomato Pickle
We have a small vegetable patch in our backyard and every year we plant 4-6 tomato plants. This summer, we had very good growing conditions and got a bumper crop of tomatoes. We had fresh tomatoes all summer long - salads, rasams, pasta sauces, curries, sandwiches, simply sprinkled with salt and pepper - you name it and we tried it! The flavor of garden fresh tomatoes is just unbeatable.
In the summer, the kids go out on tomato gathering expeditions and can often be found sitting in the backyard, sinking their teeth into those juicy tomatoes, seeds and pulp staining their flushed faces until some wandering bees chase them indoors :-)
We are also lucky enough to have an ethnic produce store close by that has vine ripened tomatoes at reasonable prices throughout the year. When you can't get home grown tomatoes, vine ripened tomatoes are perfect.
In an attempt to preserve that fresh, intense, sun-kissed tomato flavor and to tide us over the dreary midwest winter until summer rolls around again, I make batches of tomato pickle; spicy and fiery hot for us and without any chillies for the kids.
My son (check out his blog athttp://planesplanesplanes.blogspot.com, he will be thrilled if you drop him a comment) loves aloo or spinach parathas smeared with zero-chilli tomato pickles packed for his school lunch. It is one lunch that he gobbles up without any leftovers.
As for me, hot freshly steamed rice, a dab of ghee and tomato pickles...yumm....winter doesn't seem so unbearable after all!
Roughly 2 lbs of fresh tomatoes
1/4 to 1/2 cup of oil
4-5 pods of garlic (optional)
8-10 green chilles (or adjust to taste)
a few curry leaves
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp asafoetida powder, hing
1 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
Wash the tomatoes and deseed. Pulverize tomatoes in the blender along with green chillies and garlic (if using any).
You can also go the additional step of skining the tomatoes by plunging them in hot water to loosen the skin. I believe that a little skin doesn't hurt anyone and leave it be. It gets quite minced in the blender anyway.
Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan. Add asafoetida and mustard seeds. When the seeds crackle, add the tomato mixture. Add the salt and turmeric powder. Cook on a slow flame, stirring every so often, till the mixture thickens. The oil will start to seperate out from the tomato paste and the mixture will begin to resemble a pickle/jam consistency. Take off the stove at this point.
Add the chilli powder to taste and leave to cool. I find that adding the chilli powder early in the process causes an acrid, burnt smell.
Bottle into sterile jars. Top off with some heated oil if storing for a long time and refrigerate.
There you have it - summer sunshine in a bottle!
- Tomato pickles goes well with rice, chappatis, parathas and bread.
- If made with generous quantities of oil(!), the pickles can last for more than a year in the fridge.
- If you don't want to bother with fresh tomatoes, the pickles can be made with canned crushed tomatoes.