Farewell Tomatoes

Last weekend, I pushed it. I bought two tomatoes at the local farmer’s market on 67th street. New York state tomatoes are okay (they aren’t tidewater Maryland tomatoes, alas), and I thought I’d have just one more shot at a tomato sandwich. But the cold must have gotten to them: they were mealy inside, just like I’d bought Florida fresh market tomatoes at the supermarket in January (which I don’t do). It’s like eating pink styrofoam.

When the weather settles into the cool, there are a few tricks for the not quite ripe. Place the pink-hued tomatoes in a paper bag on a warm windowsill, and let them ripen via ethylene, produced by the tomato itself. Green tomatoes can be fried, pickled, or turned into pie (tastes like apple!).

The season is waning, and while our foremothers coaxed their kitchen gardens all winter long (read my post on the winter garden here), here is a recipe for Green Tomato Pickle from Fifty Years in a Maryland Kitchen by Jane Grant Gilmore Howard, published originally in 1881.

Green Tomato Pickle

One peck of green tomatoes. Lay them in salt and water for one day, then take them out and wash and slice them. Put them in a skillet with half a gallon of vinegar, one cupful of white mustard seed, half a cupful of ground black pepper, half a cupful of ground ginger, quarter of a cupful of cayenne pepper, quarter of a cupful of cloves. A saucerful of sliced horse-radish and one of sliced onion. Stew all together and pot it.

Photo: eGullet

About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.