Green Tomato Chutney

For over twenty years we’ve been growing enough tomatoes most years to produce ‘GTC’ – Green Tomato Chutney. If we don’t give jars of it to certain friends and relations at Christmas, we get complaints. I had assumed it was pretty well known as a recipe, but from the comments on our Facebook pages this year, apparently not.

So here goes with the whole recipe thing – but remember, this is only a guide! In many years we’ve done an ‘onion free’ version for friends who can’t onion, bulking out the quantities with extra tomatoes and apples. Historically we’ve also done batches with fresh ginger, or Christmas spices. This year, we didn’t have quite enough soft brown sugar, so we used some golden granulated instead because we really couldn’t face going shopping in the rain!

Recipe:
12oz green (ish) tomatoes – chopped
12oz onions – chopped fairly finely
8oz cooking apples – peeled, cored and chopped
12fl oz malt vinegar
12oz soft brown sugar
1.5 level tbs cornflour
3 level tsp ground ginger
1 level tsp salt
0.5 level tsp ground black pepper
0.25 level tsp turmeric
A couple of handfuls of dried fruit – sultanas and raisins

We find we can get 3x recipe in our jam saucepans, and 2x recipe in the largest saucepan we’ve got. We’re very imprecise on the spices – if you like more flavour go heaped on those spoonfuls!

Chop the tomatoes, apples and onions finely.
Place in a pan and cook on a low heat for about half-an-hour. Stir regularly as it will catch, and if it looks like it’s struggling for liquid, add a cup-full of water – we did that with our last (2x) batch today. Add a couple of handfuls of dried fruit.
Put some clean jam jars in the oven at 100c to warm gently – this stuff gets lethal hot, and will crack a jam jar at bottling if you don’t!
Add more than half of the batch’s worth of vinegar, and boil for a further 5 minutes, whilst you…
Blend the cornflour and spices, with the remaining vinegar.
Mix to a slurry, and add with the sugar to the mixture in the pan.
Keep stirring and cook for a further 5 minutes or so.
If the lumps of veg are too chunky or hard, you could take the spud basher to it?!

We use the jam funnel and a ladle to get it into jars. The person in the house with the most ‘asbestos fingers’ get’s to screw the jars on tight. Then leave to cool, wash up and open the windows, if you haven’t already – your house will smell of vinegar for days otherwise!

We always wash down the jars of chutney with hot water when they’ve cooled as I’ve never yet managed to bottle it without getting sticky chutney everywhere. Label when the jars are dry, and store for at least 3 months before trying it – but it can keep for years, if your family and friends don’t get to it first.

To give credit where credit is due, this recipe came from our friends Charlotte and Iain from our Bracknell days, and I can’t remember we where they got it from.

Roasted tomato and garlic sauce

Autumn has arrived, so we finally stripped out the tomatoes from the greenhouse this morning, which left us the rest of the day to process the goods. First up, was our take on a favourite Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall veg recipe with the ripe ones. I think you can jar this, be we don’t – we freeze it in small (3 ladle) amounts, and pop it in stews or use as a soup base during the winter. This is probably the 4th batch of this stuff we’ve made this year – the tomato crop has been immense.

Don’t ask me about quantities, not a clue! But we had enough ripe ones to cover more than 1 of our roasting dishes, so I spread them out across two – the bigger tomatoes are cut in half, and laid out face down. Then I split a whole bulb of garlic across the two dishes – crushed – then drizzled a reasonable quantity of olive oil over the lot. I think the classic HFW recipe involves herbs too, but I’ve never bothered.

I popped them in a hot oven 180c for about a half hour, keeping an eye on them until the top of the tomatoes and some loose garlic bits are slightly crispy. Then comes the slightly faffy bit, where 2 pairs are hands are useful: carefully pour the mushy, liquidy gloop through as sieve placed over a large bowl. Having one person to hold the roasting dish, and one to slide the gloop is ideal.

What we do then is to use a short handled wooden spoon (or my husband prefers a potato masher with our flat-bottomed sieve) to push through as much of the roasted tomato as possible, breaking down the skins, centres and pips until you’ve just got a load of tough husky bits left. You may need to decant to a larger bowl, and you’ll definitely need to scrape the underside of the sieve because that goo is the best bit!

Washing up the sieve is the biggest pain of the whole exercise, but well worth it!

We leave the bowl with cling-film over it to go cold. Then the resulting bowl of flavour-filled gloop is frozen into small batches, and will be added to assorted stews just before the ‘thickening’ stage, all winter long.