Thursday, December 6, 2012

Green Tomato Chutney

Plate with Chutney in front of turkey slices and green cauliflower
Green Tomato Chutney with Turkey and Cauliflower

Recipe Adapted from “A Midwest Gardener’s Cookbook

This post is a contender for most unusual recipe blogged yet on Seasonal Eating. Move over Candied Tomatoes, DIY Chen Pi, and Blue Violet Tea! Green tomatoes, the recipe’s main ingredient, are not something that we can buy. But they’re something we end up with when we garden, and in large amounts if the frost comes early. Sometimes we can pamper late season tomatoes into ripening by covering them at night and making sure they get full sun during the day, provided that no cold rains fall. But at some point, we’ll want to pick all of our green tomatoes and be done with it. I finally threw in the pampering towel a couple of weeks ago, but the green tomatoes languished in my refrigerator until last Monday.

Green Tomatoes Being Prepared for Blanching
The Active Ingredient
The source of this recipe is Marian K. Towne’s “A Midwest Gardener’s Cookbook,” a boon for seasonal cooks and CSA farm share recipients as well as gardeners. Not only does she divide the recipes into seasonal harvests, she also uses wild and semi-wild harvested ingredients like dandelion, mulberry, daylilies, and horseradish. And she includes unusual cultivars like pawpaws, elderberries, nasturtiums…and green tomatoes.

Jar of Chutney with Large Portion Scooped out onto Burger
Adds Zing to Burgers
Ms. Towne is from a Mennonite farming family, born during the Great Depression. Essentially, she knows how to cook everything into solid and nourishing Midwestern fare, wasting nothing. She even gives tips for wintertime gardening: not just kale and leeks outdoors, but herbs, lettuces, peppers, and even tomatoes growing in sunny windows. Each fruit and veggie is discussed in general cooking terms before launching into specific recipes. Even if you cook more like a Californian spice-monger than a Midwest farmer, this book is a fabulous source of innovative cooking ideas.

Green Tomatoes, Onions, Raisins, Vinegar, Salt, and Spices
More Active Ingredients
I spiced up the original recipe, doubling the amount of dried mustard and adding a spoonful of mustard seeds for texture as well as flavor. I debated about adding some crushed red pepper, and added just a bit. The quantity could be doubled or even quadrupled (to 1 teaspoon) if you like hot spicy chutney. I added dried ginger, subtle but complimentary, and I might try doubling the quantity (to ½ teaspoon) next time. You could also experiment with increasing the amount of Worchestershire sauce. I cut the original recipe in half, so feel free to double it if you’ve gotta lotta green tomatoes.

Note that peeling green tomatoes is quite a bit harder than peeling ripe tomatoes, even after you blanch them in boiling water per the recipe. Many of the green cherry tomatoes couldn’t be peeled at all (skin too tough and not enough flesh under it), so I just chopped those finely with the skins on, making sure to use more of the large peeled tomatoes than the cherries.

Hand Holding Jar of Green Tomato Chutney
Homemade Holiday Gift
You might or might not want to take the time to can this small amount. Canning chutney, similar to preserves, is a simple process if you have the equipment and the canning jars on hand. Canning also can provide you with homemade holiday gifts. If you’d rather skip the hot water processing though, chutney can be frozen, or refrigerated for up to a month. Considering that this recipe makes only 3 half-pints, these are viable options.

According to Marian Towne, this chutney is good with curries and other Indian dishes. It’s also a super accompaniment to turkey and other meats, and makes a zesty addition to roll-up sandwiches. Any other ideas for how to use this chutney?

Green Tomato Chutney on Plate with Meat and Veggie
Enhances Winter Meals
Green Tomato Chutney
makes 3 half-pints

1½ lbs. green tomatoes
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup raisins
1 cup cider vinegar
¾ cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tbsp. salt
1 tsp. dried mustard
1½ tsp. brown/black mustard seed
¼ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper

If you’d like to store your chutney long-term rather than in the refrigerator for immediate consumption, boil 4 half-pint canning jars to sterilize. Remove with canning jar lifter and set upside-down on tea towel. Wash lids and cover with hot water in bowl until needed.   

Boil a pot of water and cut an X into the skin of each tomato for easier peeling. Immerse green tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds or more to loosen skin. Remove to heatproof bowl with slotted spoon. When cool enough to handle, peel tomatoes. Chop tomatoes to make about 2 pints.

Place tomatoes into heavy 4-quart saucepan. Add chopped onion, raisins, cider vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, salt, dried mustard, mustard seed, ginger, and red pepper if using. Mix well.

Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer uncovered, stirring periodically, and more frequently as mixture thickens. Simmer about 45 minutes, until well-thickened.

At this point, you may ladle the chutney into jars to be refrigerated and used within a few weeks, or can the chutney for longer storage using hot water processing.

Remove from heat and ladle or spoon chutney into half-pint jars using a wide mouth jam funnel. Fill jars to ¼ inch from the top. Grab a lid from the hot water with a lid lifter and shake off water. Place on top of jar. Screw a ring onto jar. If you are canning, make sure the ring is barely finger-tight, avoiding over-tightening as air must escape during hot water processing in order to seal the jar.

To hot water process: Remove some water from the pot in which you sterilized the jars, approximately the total volume of the jars (so water bath won’t overflow—but making sure that jars will be covered with 2 inches of water). Reheat water to full boil. Remove from heat while you use the jar lifter to place each jar into hot water bath.

Return water to gentle boil. You might want to use an inexpensive digital  thermometer to check the water temperature. Try to keep the temperature between 210 and 212 degrees F. The chutney will boil and form bubbles in the jars if it gets too hot. Process for 20 minutes, keeping temperature constant by adjusting heat and/or position of pot on stove. Remove pot from heat.

Use jar lifter or tongs to remove jars from hot water bath. Set each jar on kitchen towel. Don’t set directly on any cool or fragile surface. As soon as jars have cooled enough to handle, tighten rings. An inexpensive ring tightening gizmo makes this easier.

Cool for several hours or overnight. Lids must “snap” down to seal. If after cooling you can depress the center of the lid, it is not sealed. You can either refrigerate that jar and eat it within a month or remove the ring and lid, wipe the jar top and threads with a damp paper towel, and reprocess.

All Chutney Ingredients in Saucepan Before Cooking
Harmonious Blending of Ingredients


  1. This sounds great. I made a great tomato chutney last month and love it. I will try your version sometime.

  2. Hi KT, what did you put into your tomato chutney? I'd love to try a red tomato chutney next year.