We made Sweet Cherry Tomato Pickles for the first time last year, and they quickly became a favorite. Juicy, tangy and bite-sized, they’re easy to serve as is or blended together for a quick vinaigrette. With the tomato season holding on, we still had time to make up a batch before they disappeared.
A wide variety was on offer at the Exeter Farmers’ Market, and we brought home some of each — tiny Matt’s Wild tomatoes from Meadow’s Mirth; and papery husk cherries, and a mix of cherry and grape tomatoes from New Roots Farm.
Husk cherries are related to tomatillos and, similarly, need to be stripped of their paper covering before eating. Also known as ground cherries or cape gooseberries, they can be snacked on raw, made into jam, dried like raisins, or, as we’re doing here, preserved as pickles.
Our original thought was to make separate jars of the different varieties, and soon realized the advantage of mixing them together. In this practical application of sphere packing, the smaller tomatoes fit in the spaces between the larger-sized ones, allowing each jar to be filled with more fruit. Plus it made for a festive little tomato party in a jar.
To prevent floating, the tomatoes are pricked with a clean toothpick; the fruit should eventually settle once they’ve had time to cure. Like most pickles, give them a couple of weeks time for the flavor to develop before serving, traditionally at Thanksgiving.
Sweet Cherry Tomato Pickles
Makes 5 pints
5 teaspoons dill seeds
2½ teaspoons black peppercorns
10 dill sprigs (optional)
5 garlic cloves
8 cups (or 3 pounds) cherry tomatoes, hulled and pricked
4 cups cider vinegar
1¼ cups water
¾ cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
– In a dry sauté pan over medium heat, toast the dill seeds and peppercorns. Divide the spices among 5 pint jars, using about 1½ teaspoons per jar, then add 2 sprigs dill and 1 garlic clove to each jar. Pack the tomatoes evenly among the jars.
– In a pot, bring the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt to a boil. Pour brine over the tomatoes, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace from the rim of the jar. Check the jars for air pockets, adding more brine if necessary to fill in gaps. Seal jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
Adapted from “The Preservation Kitchen” by Paul Virant.