Pickled Tomatoes is one the oldest tradition of Albanian cuisine. The preparation of pickles is a special work of Albanian women. They are called “zahire” and usually they are prepared during the summer, to be preserved on the upcoming months and to be consume then in winter.

Pickling is a technique of preservation of vegetables, by fermentation in brine or in vinegar. The pickling recipes vary from country to country, as do the spices added.

The most popular type of turshi here in Albania are pickled tomatoes, sauerkraut, peppers, mixed vegetables, cucumbers, eggplants and beets (which I particularly like). Pickled tomatos are among the most favorites of the albanians.

Besides vitamin C, the process of fermentation releases lactic acid and probiotics, which actually aid digestion. As we all know fresh fruit and vegetables contain natural antioxidants that help prevent heart disease and cancer.

However, not everyone knows that unlike cooking, which destroys antioxidants, pickling actually preserves them. Turshi also contain moderate amounts of iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, as well as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, folate, vitamin B-12, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin D, and vitamin K.

AgroWeb.org brings today the Albanian recipe of pickled tomatoes:

How to prepare Pickled Green Tomatoes

Ingredients

* 2 pounds green tomatoes, stemmed and cut into wedges
* 1 cup white vinegar
* 1 cup water
* 1 Tbsp pickling salt
* 3 teaspoons dill seed
* 6 garlic cloves, peeled
* 3/4 teaspoon peppercorn
* 3 bay leaves

Directions

1. Prepare a boiling water bath and sterilize 4 (just to be safe) pint jars. Place the lids in a small sauce pan, cover them with water and simmer over low heat.
2. Combine the vinegar, water and salt in a small pot and bring to a boil.
3. Remove your sterilized jars to a towel lined counter top next to the stove. Place the following into the bottom of each hot, ready-for-canning jar:

-1 teaspoon dill seed
-2 garlic cloves
-1/4 teaspoon peppercorn
-1 bay leaf

4. Pack the green tomato wedges into the jars – wedge them in there as best you can without mangling them. Pour the brine slowly into the jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace. Use a wooden chopstick to remove the air bubbles and add a bit of additional brine if necessary. Wipe rims, apply simmered lids and screw on bands.
5. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. When time is up, remove the jars from the canner and let them cool on a towel-lined counter top. When jars are completely cool, remove rings and test seals by grasping the edges of the lid and lifting the jar. If the lids hold fast, the seal is good.
6. Wait at least one week before eating to allow time to cure. Store in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

Benefits of Green Tomato

Antioxidant Vitamins: A large green tomato has 43 milligrams of vitamin C, providing half the daily requirement for men and nearly 60 percent for women.

It also has 58 micrograms of vitamin A, giving you close to one-tenth of your recommended daily intake. Getting enough of these antioxidant vitamins can help protect your immune system and prevent premature aging.

Vitamin K and B-Complex Vitamins: B-complex vitamins help your body use protein, fat and carbohydrates to produce energy. They also play a role in the production of red blood cells.

One large green tomato provides about 10 percent of your daily requirement for the B vitamins thiamin, vitamin B-6 and pantothenic acid, as well as a little less than 10 percent of the riboflavin and niacin you need each day.

Minerals, Protein and Fiber: Although a green tomato is low in mineral content, it supplements your diet with 5 to 10 percent of your recommended daily intake for iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and manganese, minerals that benefit your blood, nerve function, bones and muscles./AgroWeb.org