Let’s face it, I am a bad tomato farmer.
I don’t know why that should be – I mean, tomatoes and potatoes are family. Be that as it may, the tomato branch of the clan comes in for the poor relation treatment in my garden. I never pinch out the tomatoey side shoots as they develop, even though I know I should. As a result, my tomato plants invariably end up an unruly mess, largely neglected and, because I grow them out of doors in an Irish summer, the harvest is, at best, decidedly green in colour.
Still, I redeem my poor farming ways by making the likes of green tomato chutney and mustard pickle with green tomatoes. And, who knows, with any luck, some of the harvest will eventually turn its proper colour after a few weeks indoors. The tomatoes won’t be anything like as sweet as those fully ripened on the vine, but they will still be better than what often passes for tomatoes in Irish supermarkets. As anybody who lives here knows, the tomatoes offered for sale in this country are very often a pale imitation of the real thing, which makes growing your own a particularly satisfying endeavour, even if, like me, you’re not exactly top of the tomato-farming class.
Green Tomato Chutney
I’m not entirely sure where this recipe came from. It’s written on a piece of paper and stuffed into one of my pickling books, which means that I got it from some book of my mother’s or maybe from my big sis #1. What I do know is that, like most chutneys, this really benefits from being left to mature. Right now, I am almost at the end of the last jar of last year’s batch, and, at almost 12 month old, it’s great. I’d give it at least a month stored somewhere cool and dark before breaking into your supply.
- 1.35kg green tomatoes
- 2 large onions, about 400g
- 1 red or yellow pepper, about 100g
- 2 large cooking apples, about 750g
- 550ml cider vinegar
- 450g demerara sugar
- 1 tblsp salt
- 0.5 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp brown mustard seeds
- 1 large fresh red chili
- 1 tsp allspice
You’ll also need:
- Jars and non-corrosive lids for approx. 2.5 litres worth of chutney
- Chop the tomatoes, onions and pepper and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the salt, toss to mix and set aside for an hour, then drain the vegetables into a colander.
- Peel and chop the apples.
- Put the vinegar and sugar in a large, heavy saucepan and add the drained vegetables, apples, cloves, mustard seeds, chili and allspice.
- Bring to a boil over a medium heat, then reduce the heat and simmer the mixture gently, uncovered, for about an hour, until all of the fruit and vegetables are completely soft and the mixture has reduced and thickened slightly.
- While the chutney is simmering, you can prepare the jars. Turn your oven on to 140C. Wash the jars in hot soapy water, rinse thoroughly, and sterilise, either by boiling in water for 10 minutes and then drying in the oven or just by keeping the jars in the oven for at least 30 minutes before using. To sterilise the lids, dip in boiling water and allow to dry.
- Pour the chutney into the hot, sterilised jars, to within 3mm of the tops and seal with the lids.
- Allow the jars to cool and leave in cool, dark place to mature for at least 1 month, after which you can enjoy with some sharp cheeses or meats or maybe with some tomato-based curries.
- The recipe as is does not have a strong chili bite, so add more chili if your tastes are that way inclined.
- Around 2.5 litres of chutney.