A Minnesota Tomato Harvest

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Summer is officially over here in Minnesota. After months of caring for our tomato plants, we came to the realization that it was time to harvest the last of the tomatoes before the first hard freeze.

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This was our first year growing tomatoes from seed and our first year growing them in pots on our deck to keep them from being a tasty treat for the local deer and bunny population. Because we got a bit of a late start, we didn’t truly begin to see the fruits of our labor until mid-August when we were blessed with the first juicy, ripe Sweet 100’s.

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Unfortunately, with the onset of autumn and the temperatures dropping rapidly, our plants were heavy with a plethora of green tomatoes that begged to be saved for our winter enjoyment. But…what to do with a billion green cherry tomatoes? Well, chutney seemed the obvious solution, but after a bit of searching online, I landed on a few quick pickle recipes that captured my interest, so I decided to give it a try…with my own minor adaptations.

And, for the ripe tomatoes, a slow-roast just seemed like the best way to enjoy these sweet, red nuggets throughout the cold months of winter. I plan to store them in the freezer and add them to pastas and sauces to bring a blush of summer to our blustery Minnesota winter months ahead.

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Spicy Pickled Green Cherry Tomatoes

Makes 1 Quart and 2 Pints

2-4 pints green tomatoes (depending on size, enough to fill jars)
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
2 Tbsp pickling or sea salt
4 tsp dill seed
4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp black peppercorns
4 cloves garlic

Bring vinegar, water, and salt to a boil in medium saucepan. Fill sterilized jars with tomatoes. Fill each pint jar with 1 clove of garlic, 1 tsp dill seed, 1 tsp red pepper flakes, and 1/2 tsp peppercorns. Fill the quart jar with 2 cloves of garlic, 2 tsp dill seed, 2 tsp red pepper flakes, and 1 tsp peppercorns. Using a funnel, pour brine into each jar until tomatoes are covered leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Place caps and rings on jars. Allow to cool on counter for a few hours, and then store in the refrigerator.

Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

2-4 pints ripe cherry tomatoes
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 sprigs thyme
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Wash and remove stems from tomatoes. Slice tomatoes in half. Place on parchment lined baking sheets with cut side facing up. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Top with thyme sprigs. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.

Bake at 300 degrees for 90 minutes. Turn off oven but do not remove tomatoes. Allow to cool in oven for two hours. Transfer baking sheets to freezer. When tomatoes are frozen, transfer them to an airtight freezer bag for storage.

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