Here I am, sitting in my living room, looking outside at a very foggy day when the rain hasn't actually stopped. It is likely not even fog. It is likely the clouds are so low with the heavy rain that we living at the top of a hill are simply encased by foggy clouds. It's a dull day, miserable, not overly cold, yet uncomfortable. And I am sitting here in my living room, feet up with the kitchen door wide open to let some of the pungent aroma of boiling vinegar escape the house, exchanging it for the smell of rain and of coal fire that someone down the road has lit to warm their bones.Why in the Goddess' autumn name am I boiling vinegar? Well I have a reason. I have not simply lost the plot... yet.Unfortunately, my tomatoes were a fail this year. Not a single red one, but I suppose trying to grow them without a greenhouse in the backyard was worth a try. But waste not want no! A long time ago I tried fried green tomatoes and let me tell you one thing: never again. I found them bitter (and I really don't do bitter). So what else to make from tomatoes that never reached their perfect red lushness? Green tomato chutney sprang to mind and this is what I am currently simmering on the stove.Do you want to know my recipe? Sure thing, here you go:
1 kg green tomatoes
750 g onions
400 g cooking apples
150 g raisins
500 g brown sugar
4 garlic cloves
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp black pepper
2 tsp salt
1 ltr malt vinegar
Roughly chop all your vegetables. Basically chop them to the size that you would like to find in a chutney. If you don't want to peel the apples then you don't have to but I peeled mine. I was spending ages peeling the garlic and the onions anyway, so the apples really were no extra effort.
Pour the vinegar into a large pot, add the sugar, spices and your vegetables and bring you concoction to the boil. Pungent yet? Just you wait...
Once at boiling point, turn the heat to a simmer and leave to simmer without a lid for at least an hour. I am saying an hour because it can take considerably longer depending on your stove. If you have one of those fancy halogen ones that I have (in my defence, it was already here when we bought the house) the hour can easily turn into two, maybe longer. So be patient and stir occasionally. The chutney is done when it has considerably reduced and changed its colour to a nice thick brown.
But wait, I have more stuff to do for you, don't just walk off.
Now get your potion vessels out the cupboard and sterilise them along with the lids. Imagine going through all the peeling and chopping effort and then your chutney goes off within a week. Wash your jars properly and rinse them. Don't dry them though. Preheat your oven to 160 C. Place your jar onto a baking tray and pop them in the oven for 10 minutes. You can sterilise the lids by soaking them in boiling water for a few minutes.
Once the chutney is reduced nicely, turn the heat off and spoon it into your jars. Let them cool and pop them into the fridge.
I know, I know! There are people who prefer to go a step further to make sure that your preserves are fully sterilised and who don't like the idea of cook, spoon, fridge but the idea of cooks, spoon, sterilise, cupboard. I hear you! Here is your next step:
Fill a large pot with water and if you have a rack place it at the bottom. If you don't have a rack, don't fret, simply put a towel on the bottom of the pot. This stops the jars from touching the bottom which can cause damaged to both the pot you are using and your jars. Now bring the water to the boil and leave the jars in the boiling water for about five minutes. Lift them out... and by toad be careful!... and let them cool. The lids will seal when the jars cool, creating a vacuum. This can take several hours so no peaking, okay?
The advantage of this method is that the jars won't need refrigerating and last for up to a year. Once open, though, keep them in the fridge.
That's it... and I am off now to check on my bubbling chutney. Enjoy!