How to Use Surplus Green Tomatoes From Your Greenhouse
Do you grow your own tomatoes and have lots of green ones still on the plants at the end of the growing season? Then why not try your hand at making this green tomato chutney with them?
You won't be disappointed. It's as good as any you can buy in the shops—if not better. It's certainly a lot cheaper than buying chutney at the store. And if you make it yourself, it'll be very satisfying to enjoy the fruits of your labours next summer when relaxing in your garden while having your homemade chutney with your ploughman's lunch.
How Much Will This Recipe Make?
This recipe makes about 3 kilograms (6 pounds 10 ounces); vary the quantities in proportion to how many green tomatoes you have on hand. If you have 1 kilogram of tomatoes, then halve all the other ingredients accordingly.
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
2 hours 30 min
- 2 kilograms (4 pounds 6 ounces) green tomatoes
- 3 large or 400 grams/14 ounces onions
- 400 mililitres/14 ounces vinegar
- 400 grams/14 ounces soft brown sugar
- 800 grams/1 pound 12 ounces sultanas
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground mixed spices
- Coarsely shred the tomatoes and onions in a food mixer. Ensure that the ingredients are coarsely shredded and not finely chopped.
- Put the coarsely shredded tomatoes and onions into a large saucepan or preserving pan with half the recipe's vinegar (200 mls/7 fl oz.).
- Cover the saucepan, and simmer for about 30 min.
- Add the sugar, and stir until dissolved.
- Pour in the remaining vinegar, the sultanas, and all other ingredients.
- Simmer uncovered on a low heat for two and a half hours, occasionally stirring.
- Pour into jars while still warm, add lids, and label.
Ways to Use Your Unripe Green Tomatoes at the End of the Season
If you grow your own tomatoes outdoors in Britain, the climate is rarely ideal; the growing season is short. They ripen late in the season and invariably come in mid-September (just before the threat of frosts). So, you’re left with lots of green tomatoes that most people traditionally pick and store in a warm, dark place until they ripen. That storage place is often the airing cupboard. You could store them, or you could make this recipe!
I prefer to grow my tomatoes in an unheated greenhouse. The growing season is significantly longer (you’re harvesting tomatoes from July), crops are heavier, and by late October or early November, you’re picking the last of the ripe tomatoes with just a few green tomatoes to pick and store in the kitchen to ripen.
However, a few years ago, the British summer and autumn didn’t favour the growing and ripening of tomatoes, even in the greenhouse. Although plenty of tomatoes grew, there just wasn’t enough sun to ripen them. So come the end of the season, I still had 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of green, unripe tomatoes on the plants. And that’s far too many to try to ripen in the house.
So I used this surplus to make this recipe, which I sampled as I spooned into the jam jars once made. It was so yummy; it’s definitely something I’ll do again next time I have a surplus of green tomatoes at the end of the growing season.
Use Sultanas (Raisins) and Spices to Vary This Recipe
At a later date, when I had just 500 grams (approximately 1 pound) of green tomatoes, I tried a small batch without any sultanas, reducing the amount of vinegar and sugar by a quarter to compensate. It was just as yummy but smoother. However, in the long run, the original recipe does keep much longer. Whereas the recipe with less sugar and vinegar does ideally need to be used within the first year.
So if you want to add fewer sultanas or omit them altogether, it's not critical to the success of this recipe. But it would pay to experiment in small batches and decide for yourself how you like your homemade chutneys. Likewise, I seasoned this with mixed spices, but if there are any specific spices you're particularly fond of, then try adding a pinch of that too.
This Chutney Is Great in a Ploughman's Lunch
I mentioned ploughman’s lunch in my introduction as an ideal meal for having with green tomato chutney. Of course, this sauce goes well on any menu where you would normally include chutney, such as quiche, chips, egg salad, etc. But unless you’re British, you may not be familiar with a ploughman, which is a traditional British cold snack normally eaten outside for lunch on a hot summer’s day with a pint of beer.
The concept behind this type of lunch plate is a vision of a ploughman having his midday lunch in the field he’s ploughing, and his lunch consists of all the farm produce readily available to him, like apples, cider, pickles, onions, cheese, butter, home-baked bread, salads, tomatoes, eggs, etc.
The modern ploughman’s lunch can consist of a few additional ingredients, such as crisps (known as chips in America) for added flavour, but the concept is that as long as the chunky bread and cheese are there, then it’s a ploughman’s.
Ploughman's Serving Suggestions
This lunch plate typically includes:
- a thick chunk of crusty bread from a loaf (not sliced bread) or a cob,
- plenty of butter,
- a thick chunk of hard cheese, e.g., cheddar, Stilton, etc.,
- a little salad, especially lettuce and tomato,
- a few slices of raw onion,
- optionally a few crisps (or chips in America), and
- a pickle, traditionally Branston pickle, or in this case, green tomato chutney.
You can vary the ingredients of your lunch to include an apple, a tomato, a hardboiled egg, etc. But if you use sliced bread and/or grated cheese (or soft cheese), then you don't have a ploughman; you just have a cheese salad with bread and butter, which doesn't taste the same and certainly isn't as appetising as a ploughman's lunch.
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Questions & Answers
Question: How long does green tomato chutney last when preserved?
Answer: It preserves well, I’ve had homemade chutney that’s perfectly fine years later; so the answer is years rather than months.