Wow, what an amazing fall this has been! The warm days seem to just keep coming and the garden just keeps giving. The mesclun mix, kale, and spinach I planted in August have been filling our plates for dinner. The winter squash, sweet potatoes, onions, beets and carrots have all been harvested and the brussels sprouts and leeks are now the stars of the show.
I’m lucky to have a small greenhouse, so I’m still able to pick a few peppers and one or two ripe tomatoes each day. However, there comes a time when the outdoor tomatoes are finished. The brown vines are spent and no matter how warm these fall days are, the green tomatoes ain’t never going to ripen. My last canning job each year is to gather up the last of the unripe tomatoes, along with some windfallen apples and make a batch of Green Tomato Chutney.
Chutney is a particular form of preserving, originating in India. The name derives from the Hindu word चटनी chaṭnī, meaning to lick. British chutneys were attempts to reproduce the exotic recipes brought back by Indian Traders in the 18th & 19th centuries. European-style chutneys are usually a combination of fruit, vinegar, sugar, and spices, cooked until the chutney is reduced to a thick consistency. Fresh chutney will taste harsh and vinegary, so store all chutneys for three months before use, to allow the flavours to mature and mellow. Perfect as an accompaniment to cold meats or cheese on a cold winter’s evening.
Green Tomato Chutney
- 2 1/2 lb green tomatoes (1kg)
- 2 1/2 lb apples (1kg)
- 2lb onions (900g)
- 1 lb raisins (450g)
- 6 large cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 lb 6 oz brown sugar (625g)
- 1 oz pickling spice (25g)
- 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tbsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tbsp salt
- 3 pints malt vinegar (1.75 litres). Don’t be tempted to use Apple Cider Vinegar – it just won’t taste the same!
Wash the tomatoes and chop finely. Peel and chop the onions finely. Peel and chop the apples finely. Add the raisins, garlic, sugar, cayenne and salt. Tie the pickling spices in a small piece of cheesecloth and suspend in the other ingredients by attaching it to the panhandle.
Pour in the vinegar and bring to simmering point. Let it simmer for about 3 1/2 hours without a lid. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
The chutney is ready when the vinegar has been mostly absorbed and the spoon leaves a trail for a few seconds. Be careful not to overcook, remembering that it will thicken up quite a bit as it cools.
Pour the hot chutney into hot jars and seal. Store for three months before using.