Green Tomato Chutney

Tomato season is moments away from completion. My tomato plants withered and blackened months ago, so any that have come into my kitchen since September had to either be begged, borrowed or bought. There are still a few vendors at my Saturday farmers market with precious half pints of cherry and grape tomatoes, but I know their days are strictly numbered.

There have also been a couple of farmers with baskets of big, firm green tomatoes for sale at Rittenhouse and it’s thanks to them I’ve been able play around with these under-ripe fruits. As a side note, can I just say what a wonderful thing it is that tomatoes are useful, edible and delicious both ripe and green. How many other fruits or vegetables are similarly blessed (well, papaya does spring to mind. But beyond that).

The ingredients are quite basic, as chutneys go. Chopped onion (that’s one small white onions) and green tomatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds).

Combine in a heavy, non-reactive pot with 1 cup of white vinegar (you could certainly use apple cider vinegar if you prefer, the jug of white simply happened to be at hand when I started cooking) and 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar.

Spices included cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves, red chili flakes and ground ginger. If you prefer fresh ginger, feel free to use it in place of the ground. I was simply trying to use what I already had in my kitchen.

As you can see from the picture above, I used a little teaball to keep the cloves contained, so that the finished chutney wouldn’t be to overwhelmingly clove-y.

The resulting chutney is a bit sweet, with plenty of tang and spice. It tastes a little like Christmas, but I think it would also be quite lip-smacking on a post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich. I’m going to let it hang out a bit before I open it, to let the flavors mingle and marry a bit more before serving it up.

Do note that this takes at least an hour to an hour and a half to cook down into a finished chutney and that it cooks down significantly. I started with nearly 10 cups of raw ingredients and my final yield was just 2 pints. You could easily double it for a greater yield, but it will take even longer to cook down.

Green Tomato Chutney
yields 2 pints

6 cups chopped green tomatoes
1 1/4 cups chopped onion
1 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves (use a teaball or spice bag to keep them from overpowering your chutney)
2 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise pieces
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes (use more for a spicier chutney)
1 teaspoon sea salt (if using regular table salt, use 1/2 teaspoon)

Combine tomatoes, onion, vinegar and sugar in a 5 quart non-reactive pot over medium heat. Add the ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks, star anise and red chili flakes.

Cook over low heat for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Add salt at the very end of cooking.

When chutney has reduced by more than half, turn off heat. Use tongs to remove cinnamon sticks and star anise bits. Fill jars, wipe rims, apply lids and screw on rings. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.

Eat on turkey sandwiches, or with a bit of goat cheese.

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