I was just barely ahead of the curve. A killing frost was underway when I rescued a basket of green paste tomatoes just as they were starting to freeze. I had wanted to make fried green tomatoes but they needed to be cooked right away. While I am not a great fan of chutney, I made an apple concoction a couple of years ago that appealed to some of the people who regularly receive my canning output. This combination — green tomatoes, green apples, raisins, grated ginger, chili peppers, brown sugar and red wine vinegar – was pretty good. It needs to cure for a month before serving, so we’ll be breaking this out around the holidays.
The recipe comes from Kevin West’s fine volume, Saving the Season, which is a great read in addition to being a useful resource for those of us who preserve fruits and vegetables in volume and variety. His inspiration came from Rufus Estes’s 1911 book, Good Things to Eat. Born a slave in Tennessee, Estes became a Pullman attendant and chef, waiting on U.S. Presidents and European dignitaries. The fact that he documented this in a cookbook is extraordinary. West claims that Estes’s values are much the same as ours today: eat fresh seasonal food, prepared without a lot of fuss.
I did not peel the tomatoes as West suggests, and I used 3 pounds of tomatoes instead of 4, adjusting the other ingredients accordingly. I kept the full measure of peppers and ginger since I thought this should have a little more kick than I anticipated it would. I also let the mixture sit for a few hours before bringing it back to a boil and canning it. I thought that would help mellow it, and it did.
Green Tomato Chutney, adapted from Kevin West, Saving the Season
3 lb green tomatoes
2 tbsp kosher salt
¾ lb green apples (about 2), peeled, cored and cut into ½-inch dice
1/3 lb red onions or shallots, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 c red wine vinegar
1 c brown sugar
3 dried or fresh chili peppers, seeded and chopped
10 black peppercorns, lightly crushed
Big pinch of ground mace or nutmeg
1 scant tbsp brown mustard seeds
¾ c raisins or dried currants or a combination
Chop the tomatoes into ½-inch pieces, salt them and set aside to drain for an hour. Rinse them lightly before combining them with the other ingredients.
Combine all ingredients except the dried fruit in a large pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Add the dried fruit and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it seems too watery, let it cook down until thick and glossy.
Ladle the hot chutney into prepared canning jars (I used 8-ounce jars), leaving ½-inch headspace. Seal with a two-part lid and process in a boiling-water bath for 15 minutes after the water returns to a boil. Remove the lid, turn off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes before removing the jars to a counter to sit undisturbed until cool. Let the chutney cure for a month before using.