J works for the local college, at a suit & tie job involving lots of data & numbers & statistics & whatnot. He is a complex & highly entertaining man, however, & a few years ago commandeered a sunny patch of his building’s landscaping for a tiny vegetable garden to take the place of our now defunct neighborhood plot. Tucked in among the decorative shrubbery, he’s grown hot peppers, herbs, & lots & lots of tomatoes. This year’s Romas did particularly well, as did a lovely low acid yellow salad variety. It’s pretty great when your husband brings home gorgeous tomatoes all summer long.
Alas, it is mid October, & they’re forecasting our first real frost this weekend. This means certain death for the tomatoes, so J picked all the remaining green ones & brought them home for me to play with.
Fried green tomatoes are super, but with such small fruits, they would have been a pain in the butt to do with these particular tomatoes. I know there are green tomato jam recipes out there, but that’s just one hurdle I can’t get over. But what I can get behind is chutney.
I grew up on cheese & chutney the way most kids grow up on PB & J. Cold, or run under the broiler til the cheese bubbled merrily, a thick layer of Branston Pickle under sharp cheddar is still one of my favorite lunches. A few years ago, I started playing with micro batches of home made chutney, & while they’re no Branston, they certainly get the job done when you need that sweet, vinegary, spicy crunch to offset a tasty cheese.
A lot of green tomato chutney recipes call for apples & more sugar than vinegar – I’ve tried that, & the end result has been just too darn sweet for my taste. This year, I dialed back the sugar, left out the apples, & added some more savory accoutrements. I won’t know for a few weeks if I have a total winner, but fresh out of the pot, it’s pretty darn good.
Which is comforting, as I only used half of the green tomatoes I chopped. Oy.
Note: I use whole spices in my chutney, which soften significantly as they cook down, but still pack an entertaining punch when bitten into. If this isn’t your bag, feel free to put them in a muslin sachet or tea ball that can be fished out after your chutney has finished cooking.
Savory Green Tomato Chutney
Makes appx 7 8-ounce jars
12 c diced green/barely ripe tomatoes
2 large red onions, diced
8 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
2 c vinegar (I used half red wine, half standard white)
2 c light brown sugar
1 T brown mustard seeds
2 T yellow mustard powder
2 t ground ginger
1 T whole black peppercorns
1 T whole juniper berries
2 t whole allspice berries
1/2 t red pepper flakes
Appx 1 T salt, to taste
Combine all ingredients except the salt in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Bring to a boil & simmer lively for approximately two hours, stirring frequently as the liquid begins to evaporate. When volume has reduced by half & all the vegetables have turned completely translucent, add salt to taste. Simmer for another 5 minutes, then pack into sterilized jars & water process. Alternatively, let cool, pack into clean jars & refrigerate, using within 3 months. You can also freeze your chutney in smaller plastic containers if that’s more your style.
Serve cold with sharp cheese, charcuterie platters, pork dishes, or even as an accompaniment to Indian curries.
But mostly with cheese.