Fall is around the corner, we already had some cold days and lit the wood stove twice this week, but today is a sunny warm day again, ideal to work in the garden. Our tomato plants are still covered in unripe ones. They don’t taste anything like the sweet juicy red ones, rather acidic and won’t reach full growth or optimum ripeness with the fall temperatures. So instead of admitting defeat, I decided to enjoy them as a tasty green treat: a homemade green tomato chutney. My husband and I are already looking forward to this tasty side dish with its deliciously, sharp, puckering and astringent flavour.
Member of the Solanaceous or “nightshade” family, green or not, these tomatoes will still beat out a winter supermarket tomato for taste! With their extremely firm skin and lovely olive green color (I even used the green cherry ones), they are even a delight for the eye. Their use in the kitchen originated in the Midwestern United States, but I’m giving them each year a go in my kitchen.
Unless you bought a variety of tomatoes that stay green when ripe (delicious by the way), any tomato that hasn’t ripened can be a green tomato! Most people throw them out, so you might ask your neighbours or friends for some free specimen if you don’t have your very own vegetable patch. Mind you, never eat them raw because they have a toxin that can be poisonous!
But then again they are ever so healthy. Green tomatoes have similar amounts of vitamins as their red family: one cup will give you as much as 42 milligrams vitamin C, about 2 grams of dietary fiber, 23 milligrams of calcium and 367 milligrams of potassium. They also represent the same amount of beta-carotene helping your body produce vitamin A. Add their antioxidants, vitamin K, as well as iron, phosphorous and other minerals, B-complex vitamins and tomaintine (an alkaloid with cancer fighting properties), you’ll have to admit they are too precious not to use. So better pick them before a hard freeze damages them by its cold.
First cultivated in South and Central America by the Mayans and Incas (700 AD), the invading Spanish conquistadores brought “the apple of love” as the French call them (or “the apple of paradise” the Germans) to Europe, over here we now fancy them magically morphed into something warm and delicious, or cold aside a curry, even topped on some cheese.
Give it a go, now is the time to do so, and if this recipe isn’t your thing there are a myriad of other creative uses out there to give them a try.
- green tomatoes roughly chopped
- for 2,5kg use 0,5 kg onions, finely sliced
- 4 tsp salt
- 1 l apple cider vinegar
- 0,5 kg brown sugar
- 250 gr sultanas, roughly chopped
- 3 tsp ground pepper
- 1 table spoon of cloves
- small thumb of grated ginger
- 1 small red chili pepper (or 2)
- 4 sticks cinnamon
- 1/3 cup celery seed
- 1/3 cup mustard seed
Ready to go now:
- Slice the tomatoes and the onions.
- Put them in a bowl and stir the salt in and cover with a plate to leave overnight (this will drain the water out, enhance the flavours too and reduce your cooking time)
- Pour the vinegar into a pan that can go in the oven.
- Add the sugar and simmer till dissolved.
- Add the sultanas and bring to boil.
- Drain the mixture of tomatoes and onions (don’t rinse!) and stir well into the chutney.
- Add the pepper, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, chili pepper, celery seed, mustard seed and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling I put it in my preheated oven stirring regularly for 2 hours (225° first hour – 140° last hour, stir more often now!) to thicken the chutney. Avoid boiling too vigorously!
- Once golden brown and well thickened (!) your chutney, fill your washed jars (hot water!) to the brim, before closing.
Your kitchen will be filled with a heavenly mouthwatering aroma whilst making this yummy chutney. One jar nicely packed, fits excellent under the X-mas tree and what’s better than a homemade gift straight out of your garden…
Why not make your tomatoes last all year?
Love grows here, make each day amazing