Consider the cherry tomatoes . . .
. . . how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these . . . aaaand even the number of Solomon’s wives couldn’t hold a candle to the amount of cherry tomatoes produced by just one plant. (pardon the slight alteration of Matthew 6)
What I’ve got for you today:
- A bit about cherry tomatoes, with some great recipes from the archives
- A smaller bit about Squirreling Away impulses in the fall (you feel it too, I know it)
- What fabulous prize the chickens won last year
- (o’er-ambitious food projects coming up!)
- My recipe for fermented cherry tomatoes, at long last
Cherry tomatoes come on most abundantly, I believe, at season’s end. The plants apparently feel the encroaching freeze, panic, and go berserk! I always plant a few too many tomato plants, as one does, gentle reader, and this year I really overdid it. Really. I did. I know this comes as a shock to you, who know me so well. *smirks*
They don’t go to waste though, oh no. I sell some to restaurants still, and I’ve shared recipes of things I do with the end-of-season-berserk-cherry-tomato-phenom: (or EOSBCTP)
- Roasted cherry tomato sauce--so good with pasta and so happily freezeable!
- Cherry tomato and Quinoa Salad: a side dish or a complete meal? (Yes!)
- Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes in Butter ‘n’ Herbs: dang! I’d forgotten about this one. (Mental note: tomorrow night’s supper.)
And of course we snack on them and chop them up into every salad. Yum.
(Ooooh! One year I made cherry tomato jam–wow, was it so sweet and yummy, and the cherry tomatoes looked like jewels in the jars! I don’t have a recipe for it, but if the freeze holds off a few more weeks, I’ll work on that one.)
On Squirreling Away, in autumn
Do things seem topsy-turvy and unsettled to you too, this year? Going into fall and winter, I’ve never experienced such squirreling-away impulses as I do this year. My freezers are all FULL, full, and I’m starting to turn to fermenting to fill up my spare ‘fridge and even some spaces in our (very cool) basement.
With toilet paper and whole wheat flour shortages from last year keen in my memory, and reports of continuing shortages of other foodstuffs being predicted, I feel the urge to “put by” everything I can get my grubby little hands on. I’ve been eyeing the acorns in the windbreak (yes, acorns are edible) not to mention dandelions (leaves are great this time of year for a purifying tea, not to mention the roots), and chicory root (medicinal uses and coffee substitute).
I saw walnuts at the disk golf course last week . . .
(Help! Somebody stop me!!)
As much fun as it is to forage for wild foods (and I do consider it fun!) I’m surrounded with foods that I’ve already grown, so I’ll put my head down and work on them first. When I run out of my garden produce to “put by”, I’ll go out and compete with the squirrels for the natural foods. (That’s my carrot on a stick.)
This week, I’m making fermented cherry tomatoes.
Last fall I made a batch of these fermented cherry tomatoes, and socked them away in Steve (our second ‘fridge)–one large, lovely two-quart jar full, and I smiled every time I saw them in there. I had tasted a few of them, and they were very nice indeed . . . kind of sour, snappy and . . . effervescent!
They were so special that I decided to reserve them for Christmastime, when all the kids would be home for a few days. My older kids are such enthusiastic foodies–to my delight, of course!–and I knew that they would enjoy trying fermented cherry tomatoes. They would be a new, beautiful addition to the charcuterie board that I was planning.
But then. Disaster. Last year’s Christmas celebration didn’t happen as it should have. As with probably hundreds of families (thousands?) around the globe, our fun, intimate family gathering didn’t happen as usual. Some got together; some stayed away.
For the first time since we started our family, we weren’t all together for Christmas. It was a bitter pill, gentle reader. It was painful. And honestly, though it might have eased my mama’s heart a little to know that this was happening all over the world, to families just like ours–it really didn’t. (Yep, I’m that selfish.) As a born-and-raised Nebraskan, I can say honestly that it could have been worse. And it could have been. But it was all wrong.
Families should stick together during crises if possible, but no. Not this time.
At least the chickens win . . .
We never did eat those fermented cherry tomatoes that I had set aside for our special Christmas charcuterie. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. They were symbololic of the Saddest Christmas Ever. Eventually, to save myself that sad stab to my heart every time I saw them pushed into the recesses of Steve, I carried them out to the chicken yard and tossed them to my flock.
(My mom hates it when I feel sorry for myself. If I were to tell her this story, she’d cock her head and give me a little nudge and say “oh, poor Amy,” and in this way, remind me not to feel sorry for myself.)
My chickens weren’t too proud to eat them, either. They certainly weren’t feeling sorry for themselves. Their little guts probably never were happier! Fermented foods, as you know, are rich in probiotic bacteria, so by consuming them my chickens were adding beneficial bacteria and enzymes to their overall intestinal flora, increasing the health of their guts’ microbiomes and digestive systems and enhancing their immune systems overall.
So, after all, my smart, scrappy chickens won.
Bonus: more wisdom from my Mom
Oh, folks. When I was a little girl and was struggling with sadness, my mom would invariably come up with a simple way to get me out of my own troubled head. (Besides the “poor Amy” bit.) It was a very practical fix, and it would clean up my dirty fingernails at the same time that it got me out of my head.
“You have too much time to think,” she’d say, “Go wash the dishes.” I’m sure this was exactly what I wanted to hear (haha). “Please,” she’d add, at my stricken expression.
Thanks, Mom. I thought my day couldn’t get worse, but I was wrong. This was at the tip of my tongue but I didn’t say it. It didn’t make me feel any better to immerse my hands in the soapy water and catch up on the day’s worth of dishes, but at least I accomplished something. Idleness, in my mom’s mind, is nearly as bad as self-pity. I happen to agree with her.
So during these days of upsetting, freedoms-destroying, jaw-dropping news headlines, I think the best strategy for maintaining peace and mental health is to
- “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances” (I Thess 5:16-18)
- Surround myself with fully supportive, loving friends and family, and
- Keep. Busy. Girl!
Fun Projects this week:
- Jar up fermented cherry tomatoes
- Crock up fermented hot sauce
- Make fermented hot dilly beans and okra (I didn’t grow the okra, but my farmer friend Vince shared some with me)
- Make Cordito (Spanish sauerkraut!! I’ve never made it before and I’m excited about it!)
- Hmmm . . . I need to do something with about 10 pounds of eggplants . . . (ideas, anybody?) (NOT CANNING EGGPLANT! That sounds a little weird, even for me.)
- Make another batch of salsa with Mack (he promised to do the chopping)
- Jar up the honey I took off the bees
That’s quite a bit of food to add to what I’ve already frozen/canned/jellied. And yet, fermenting tasks are so easy and quick. Honestly. It sounds hard and fancy to ferment vegetables, but honestly–it’s not!
If you’ve stuck with me this far in this rambling missive, you deserve quick and easy directions for how to ferment your cherry tomatoes. Here ya go (curtsy). (Cymbal crash!)
The Recipe, thank goodness, at last
Originally I found this recipe in this excellent book on fermenting, by Christopher Shockey, which I highly recommend if you want to learn more about fermenting foods.
- 4 cups under-ripe cherry tomatoes
- 1 sprig fresh parsley
- 2 stems fresh basil
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- ¼ teaspoon peppercorns
- ¼ teaspoon coriander seeds
- ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
- 4 cups purified water
- 3 Tablespoons kosher, pickling, or sea salt (do not use iodized table salt!)
- 1 slender chili pepper (optional) if you'd hanker for a bit of heat (which I do)
- Put the peppercorns, coriander seeds, and mustard seeds into the bottom of a quart-sized jar, then layer in the tomatoes, parsley, basil, and garlic.
- Mix together the water and salt to make a brine, and pour over the tomatoes, making sure to cover them completely.
- Use a weight to keep the tomatoes under the brine, and cover the jar with a towel.
- Put in a cool, dark corner to ferment for 6-8 days.
- Taste them along the way. When the tomatoes are finished fermenting they will burst with a champagne-like effervescence in your mouth! Prepare your mouth for this party!
- Cover with a lid and store in the fridge. They are best after 1 to 2 weeks, and will stay good in the 'fridge for months. At least until Christmastime.
That’s it! Easy-peasy, huh?
Now if I could ask you for a quick favor? If you enjoyed this content, would you kindly share it with a friend or relation who might enjoy it, as well? THAT WOULD BE SO AMAZING. Almost as amazing as effervescent tomatoes!
And I’ll just thank you in advance for that.
*hugs, curtsies, and a cartwheel or two*