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Summer by the Pint

How to get the most out of your tasty, tiny tomatoes


Grape tomatoes. Most of year they are readily available and entirely average. But as soon as the hotter days arrive, truly exceptional tiny tomatoes start trickling into local markets. By high summer, it’s a welcome deluge.

I buy a pint or two every time I shop, to have on hand for quick meals. I toss them into salads, scramble them into eggs, and dip them into hummus. I also have a few favorite recipes in which I make repeatedly over the summer months, in order to get my fill before the season ends.

The first dish is a simple combination of lightly dressed tomatoes, chopped sweet onion, and torn basil. The first time I encountered this salad, it was served with a pile of grilled bread and fresh mozzarella. I still love it like that, but also like to toss it with warm pasta for speedy supper.

When I have a pint of grape tomatoes that went a little wrinkly overnight, I turn to slow roasting. I keep the oven temperature low so that my kitchen doesn’t heat up and let the tomatoes get tender. Cooked with a few cloves of garlic and whatever fresh herbs are in the kitchen, they work as topping or as a tasty addition to pasta salads. Sometimes I puree them and spread them on toast.

Finally, there’s the pickling approach. Quickly blanched, peeled and submerged in a tangy brine, grape tomatoes make a fabulous pickle. They are good served with fresh cheeses or alongside a refreshing cocktail.

However you eat them, make sure to pick up a pint or two of grape tomatoes while they’re at their best!

Tomato, Sweet Onion and Basil Salad


2 pints grape tomatoes (a combination of red and yellow is nice)
1 small sweet onion, minced
½ packed cup torn basil leaves
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper


Slice tomatoes into slivers. Combine in bowl with onion, basil, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

Let the salad marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving, so that the tomatoes can release their juices and the flavors can marry.

Slow-Roasted Grape Tomatoes


1 pint grape tomatoes
¼ cup olive oil
10-12 sprigs fresh thyme
5-6 garlic cloves
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 300°F.

Place tomatoes on a small rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over tomatoes. Tuck the thyme and garlic cloves in among the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.

Put tomatoes in the oven and roast for 45-60 minutes, until the tomatoes shrink, release their juices and become wonderful nuggets of concentrated flavor.

Pickled Grape Tomatoes


1 pint grape tomatoes
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup water
2 teaspoons sea salt
⅛ teaspoon mustard seeds
⅛ teaspoon coriander seeds
⅛ teaspoon red chili flakes
2-3 juniper berries


Bring a medium saucepan to a boil. Prepare tomatoes by cutting a small ‘x’ into each tomato point (opposite the stem end). Fill a large bowl with cold water.

Working in batches, blanch the tiny tomatoes for 60-90 seconds in the pot of boiling water. When the time is up, move the blanched tomatoes to the cold water bath.

Once all tomatoes have been blanched, peel away the skins.

Combine the vinegar, water and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Place all the spices in the bottom of a heatproof container, like a mason jar.

Funnel the peeled tomatoes into the jar and pour in the brine, leaving about ½ inch of headspace. Tap the jar and add more brine if the level has dropped considerably.

Place a lid on the jar and let it cool on the counter. Once it is approximately room temperature, move it to the fridge and let the tomatoes sit in the brine for at least two days before eating.

These pickled tomatoes will keep in the fridge for up to a month.

Marisa McClellan is a food blogger, freelance writer and canning teacher based in Center City Philadelphia. She runs a website called Food in Jars, where she writes about canning, preserving and delicious things made from scratch. She regularly writes for the Food Network, USA Today, Grid Philly and Mrs. Wages. Her first cookbook, Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round, is now available.


  1. Mandy vodak says:

    These all look delish, but I’m curious if the pickled tomatoes can be processed for long term storage?

    • It really depends on the ripeness of the tomatoes when you’re starting. If they’re quite ripe, they just don’t hold up all that well in a boiling water bath. However, if they’re just slightly underripe and still have some structure, they can be processed in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes in pints or smaller.

      • beth branch says:

        I wondered the same thing. I’m going to have lots of heirloom goldens and I’m very excited. Hope process well, this will be a yummy addition to my food storage.

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