There are many opportunities to be creative in this homesteading life of ours. As readers of this blog are aware, late blight has struck Western Massachusetts and, like us, many of our gardening neighbors have had to say goodbye to their tomato plants before the harvest was anywhere near complete – in our case, before we could pick even one juicy red orb.
As we pulled up blighted tomato plants, there were lots of large but unripe tomatoes left on the vines. We brought them inside and now are faced with the challenge of using them all before they succumb to blight or decay. The largest are ripening, so we should have enough to use for slicing and salads in the weeks ahead. I’m not sure if we’ll have enough ripe tomatoes for a canning, however.
So what to do? I abhor waste. Flipping through my mental recipe file, I reject a repeat of the ancestral recipe for Green Tomato Pickle, because some I made last year are still on the shelf. Oh yes, we can have a meal or two with Fried Green Tomatoes; that will use a few! Yet still they come, rank on rank, little armies of green tomatoes calling out to be eaten or preserved. Aha! Here’s a good one, Green Tomato Chutney! It’s delicious with chicken, with curries, on cheese sandwiches and as a condiment with anything that needs a little kick of flavor!
So on a rainy Wednesday, Nick and I cut up 4 pounds of green tomatoes, 4 pounds of apples, and a pound of onions. We put them into a big preserving pot with 3 pounds of brown sugar, 2 pounds of raisins, 4 teaspoons each of ground ginger, allspice and black pepper. We added 4 cloves of minced garlic, 4 Tablespoons of salt and, as the chutney cooked down, almost 3 pints of white vinegar. After reaching the boiling point, we cooked this over a medium heat for 2 to 3 hours, stirring often as it thickened to keep it from sticking to the pot. Although this recipe originally came from the book Spices, Salt and Aromatics in the English Kitchen by Elizabeth David, we follow the Ball Blue Book Canning Guide instructions for preserving, which call for processing the pint jars for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. We ended up with 6½ pints of chutney. Lots of good eating ahead!
In tomorrow’s blog I will describe how we made pickles Wednesday, and also tell you about a free workshop in Amherst Monday, where people can learn how to preserve food by canning and fermenting!