The question of what to do with green tomatoes at the end of the season used to be so simple when my garden was smaller. Fried green tomatoes are a delicious fall treat that I've come to associate with the first frost, when all of the tomatoes have to be harvested and brought inside whether they're ripe or not. Tart and sweet, crispy and juicy, fried green tomatoes are delightful sign that cold weather is setting in. But no matter how many mouths you have to feed, you can only consume so many fried green tomatoes.
This year, we grew more than twenty varieties of tomatoes, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 tomato plants in a 40-foot hoophouse and scattered around the ever-growing garden. We sold hundreds of pounds of tomatoes at farmers markets and I canned gallons and gallons of whole tomatoes and tomato sauce, made and froze scads of salsa, preserved boatloads of cherry tomatoes in oil, and generally sacked away enough homemade tomato products to last for a long time to come.
Tomato fatigue set in a while ago, and with the chaotic schedule of my job running a political campaign this fall, the last thing I wanted to think about was processing more tomatoes. But there they were: dozens and dozens of them. Piles of them. Bushels of them.
Fortunately, my friend Penryn sent me her recipe for Green Tomato Chutney, which turned out to be extraordinary. I canned a batch this afternoon, and saved some for eating right away, since it is pretty much irresistible: sweet, tart, saucy, and divinely delicious.
Penryn's Green Tomato Chutney
- 3 C currants or raisins (or cranberries or a mix)*
- 2 lemons that you have peeled, seeded, quartered and sliced thinly**
- 4 1/2 C finely chopped tart apples
- 4 1/2 C finely chopped green tomatoes
- 2 cloves garlic***
- 1/2 C honey
- 2 C finely chopped onions
- 1 C vinegar****
- 1 C filtered water
- 2 T mustard seed
- 2 tsp ground ginger (or slightly more fresh grated ginger)*****
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or 1 chopped fresh, ripe red cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp cinnamon
Combine all ingredients except honey and simmer until they are soft (probably 30 min or so). Add honey. Pack into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process for 10 minutes in boiling water bath. Makes about 6 pints.
*I used a scant 2 cups, which was certainly enough
**I substituted lemon juice
***I almost always at least double the garlic in recipes! I used 5 cloves put through a press
****I recommend organic apple cider vinegar
I used a food processor, which worked quite well for all the finely chopping.
The final product was super-delicious. Unfortunately, the chutney only made a small dent in my green tomato glut--I canned 38 half-pint jars, and would have to make another half-dozen batches to see the light at the end of the tomato processing tunnel. Tune in tomorrow for further adventures in green tomato usage.
PS: Apologies for the long absence from the Milkweed Diaries...I was caught up in the biennial whirlwind of running my friend Susan's campaign for North Carolina House. She won. And I am glad to be back in the kitchen, and writing again!