By Paul Suplee, MBA, CEC, PC-3
Summer is at an end. As I write this very short sentence, one part of me saddens at the thought of turning back into the vampire-like pale force-to-be-reckoned-with that I become eight months per year.
But, another part of me revels in the thought of September and October at the beach, truly the best time of year to live here. With most of the tourists gone, we can spread our beach blankets out just a little more, enjoying the warm ocean water, the salty breezes and the warm weather all by ourselves.
And that sounds just fine to me. Of course, this year I decided to open a restaurant (while staying at the college), so I’m not too sure exactly how much beach time we will be able to allot ourselves, but it’s worth a shot. At the very least, I’ll get the boat out another 10 times or so before I pull her for the winter.
And as the paddleboards and surfboards collect dust, I reflect on a summer where so much was done and so much is still left to do. I’m sure most of us down here have those summers. That’s all part of living in a tourist town where many of us make our mint 100 days per year.
As summer winds down, my girlfriend and I go through her garden as needed and pick tomatoes, chilies, cucumbers and other fruits and vegetables that she has been growing. The tomatoes have been prolific providers of fruit this season, and she has had a feast of grape tomatoes of different varieties topped in flavor and perfection by the Chocolate Sprinkle.
I don’t know who designed this grape tomato, but the Chocolate Sprinkle is an amazing, firm, tart and sweet morsel that rivals the best grape tomatoes I’ve ever eaten. Whether it’s halved and served in a simple salad, as part of a pasta salad, or doused in olive oil, garlic and Italian herbs and spices and blistered, these are absolutely delicious.
As a Marylander, I still like to grab a fresh tomato (or a handful of grape or cherry tomatoes) and eat away. The sweetness of the warm fruit in the summer air is divine. Sometimes, that’s all I need to make any day the perfect day.
Recently, on a trip to New Orleans, we found jars and jars of pickled goods. Some we were very familiar with, while other piqued our curiosity and delighted us with their flavors. One such product was the pickled green bean, which I believe I wrote about recently. The other was the “Tomolive,” a clever creation wherein unripened, green grape tomatoes are pickled and served anywhere we would use an olive. And if you eat olives right out of the jar, then these will work just as well there.
Incredibly simple to make, these bad boys are just green tomatoes with a small hole poked in them with a toothpick. Then by adding a hot pickling solution and allowing them to sit for a week, you will have nice, firm pickled tomolives.
The one notable difference between tomolives and olives, however, is the lack of salt in the former. These are really nothing more than pickled tomatoes as opposed to the salt-cured olive. But, looking past that subtle nuance, these are a wonderful addition to your kitchen armory, and once you make them, they can reside in your icebox for quite some time. Truth be told, I don’t think they’ll be around too terribly long, so you shouldn’t have to worry about that too much.
Of course, green grape tomatoes only come around once a year, so you can also can these so that they last throughout the winter. I’ll let you do your own research on that.
And as we go into our slow months down here, I already miss summer. But that only pushes me to enjoy what little bit we have left. The season may be over, but that only means that we don’t have too long to wait for next summer.
Pickled Green Grape Tomatoes
makes about 1 quart
1 quart fresh green grape tomatoes
3 cups Good quality white or champagne vinegar
1 cup Sugar, or to taste
1 Tbsp. Whole black peppercorns
2 Dry bay leaves
1 Tbsp. Mustard seeds
1 tsp. Whole coriander
1 tsp. Ginger powder
1/2 Cinnamon stick
- Wash the tomatoes thoroughly, ensuring that there are no blemishes
- Poke a small hole in each tomato and set aside
- Combine remaining ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil
- Remove from the heat and taste, adjusting the sweet, sour and flavor profile
- Place the tomatoes in a jar or container that can handle the tomatoes and your pickling solution
- Pour the liquid on top, making sure that all of the tomatoes are in the liquid. Otherwise, they won’t pickle. Science
- You may can these if you prefer, but this simple recipe can also be left to pickle in the refrigerator for a week. They are then ready to use
- Storing them in the refrigerator in the soak, they can last quite a long time
- Not only are these little babies great anywhere you would use a pickle or olive, the juice is also delicious for making dirty shots, or so I’ve heard. Just make sure that you don’t discard this