When life gives you green tomatoes,

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Make chutney.

But before we get to the chutney, how about a tour of the kitchen garden? Admittedly, I use the word kitchen garden very loosely. I have this fantasy of a garden filled with lush herbs spilling over the edges of paths. Verdant salad greens peeping over the tops of beautiful terracotta containers. Row upon row of feathery carrot tops and bright, flashy beetroot leaves jostling for space. And a tall bamboo teepee standing majestically in the centre of this plot, covered with climbers unfurling their curly little tendrils towards the sun.

The reality is a very tiny courtyard garden crammed higgeldy-piggeldy with plants. A teensy area starved for sunlight, in the path of occasionally ferocious winds. And to top it all off, my arch nemesis Mr. Possum attempts to foil my every gardening move.

The tiny garden has been accidentally taken over by a pumpkin plant I optimistically planted.

Possible pumpkin (if possum doesn't get to it first)

But, no matter how meager my harvest, or how often I stand out there in the early morning railing against the *%$#@!!! hungry creatures who visited during the night, I continue to soldier on. There’s just something about growing attempting to grow my own food that is highly addictive.


This is what Mr. Possum does

Enough of my sob gardening story though, let’s return to the food. I’d found myself with a glut of green tomatoes because we’d returned home from our Christmas holidays to a couple of dying tomato plants (yes, this isn’t exactly the freshest post). The poor plants were beyond redemption, so I pulled them out, and carefully stripped each salvageable tomato off the vine.

A lot of the tomatoes were too small to really use for anything else, so I thought about preserving them. After looking up a couple of recipes (from Stephanie Alexander and Madhur Jaffery), I couldn’t quite find exactly what I wanted, so I cobbled together my own version of chutney.

I was hoping for a more vibrant green colour but I think the vinegar bleached the tomatoes somewhat. However, it tastes pretty much how I hoped it would. Sweet but tangy, with a little kick from the dried chillies.

Not a great looker but something I’m quite proud off. A bit like my garden really :).

Have a great weekend and happy gardening (if you’re that way inclined).

Green tomato chutney

approx 8 cups/ 950g (1 cup=250ml) green tomatoes, chopped, deseeded if possible. I left most of the seeds in, the tomatoes were too green and little.
6 cloves garlic - finely minced
chunk of ginger (length of my thumb) finely grated
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tsp fennel seeds toasted
grated rind of 1 lime
juice of half lime
1/2 tsp ground coriander
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar (120g)
2/3 cup vinegar (150ml)
pinch of cayenne pepper
3 small dried chillies (I shook the seeds out first).

Prepare some jars. I do this by washing jars (and lids) in hot soapy water, then rinsing with boiling hot water, then laying them on their sides to dry in a low oven (about 120˚C). I try not to handle the jars if possible, instead I use a pair of metal tongs that have been washed in boiling water first. I leave the jars in the warm oven until needed. The lids I leave to air-dry.

This is probably not the most fool-proof method but I only ever make small quantities and store the finished jars in the fridge anyway.

To cook the chutney, place everything in a large saucepan, cook gently and stir until the sugar dissolves. Then turn up the heat a little and simmer until the chutney is thick (took about 45mins to an hour). Spoon hot chutney into jars and seal. Leave to cool before storing in fridge.

If you want to keep the chutney for a long time, it’s best to process them in a hot water bath.

This quantity filled 2 and a half odd sized jars.

I had 5 of these tiny dwarf eggplants in a pot. Mr. Possum ate 4 of them one night when I forgot to cover it.

This is a very welcome and quite rare garden visitor. A blue banded bee :)


Bo said...

I'm always looking for new recipes for green tomatoes...sounds great...the possums here in the US are ugly little creatures...they look like something from Harry Potter...yall's possum looks so cute.

shaz said...

Hi Bo. If you think these "pest" ones are cute, you should see the ring tailed possums, they are super-cute (and slightly shyer I think) :)

Anh said...

i am so jealous of your garden!! So green!

Heavenly Housewife said...

OMG! A possum??? I guess we aren't the only ones that enjoy a good chutney LOL! At least he's a cute possum.
*Kisses* HH

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

You have a great garden thank you for the tour. I envy you with your special guest. I wish the blue-banded bees visit our garden too.

Hungry Dog said...

Love the photos of your garden. And the chutney, well, what's not to love about that too? Goes with everything.

Not Quite Nigella said...

I love your garden photos Shaz! Especially since I have no garden to speak of! I've made fried green tomatoes and they were actually really tasty. A chutney would be amazing!

cikmanggis said...

cm pun selalu idamkan kebun yg dapat supply sayur sayuran organic untuk dapur cm tiap tiap hari:) tapi itu hanya impian sb banyak dugaan kerana banyak "musuh"bukan possum ya hehe..ulat,belalang dan siput adalah peminat setia dikebun Cm..

thanks ya Shaz:)cm nak cuba juga buat chutney ni.

p3chandan said...

Not a bad looking garden, I would say, lush and green! Nice recipe for green tomatoes since I do harvest mine green sometimes, before the fruit flies or whatever that make my tomatoes rotten when ripe.

grace said...

i'm still baffled by how cute your possums our. i think i'd hate our less if they weren't so darn hideous! :)

pigpigscorner said...

Evil possum! There's a lot going on in your garden!

Barbara Bakes said...

Sounds like you need to make some possum stew! I would love to have your fantasy garden too, especially if someone else took care of it and I could just wander out and pick what I needed. I'll have to remember this when our season end this summer.

Beth said...

When you're in the middle of winter (like I am), there's something oddly reassuring about seeing someone else's garden. This too shall pass!

shaz said...

Anh - I'd be happier if the green actually produced more edible stuff :)

Heavenly Housewife - cute but cheeky. Very cheeky!

Malay-Kadazan girl - you're welcome :) The bee seems to like herb flowers. The first time I spotted it, it was buzzing around basil flowers. This time, it was oregano and lemon balm blossoms that drew it.

Hungry Dog - thank you . And you are right, I've been eating it with almost everything.

Not Quite Nigella - I wanted to make fried green toamtoes, but they were too small.Maybe I could have fried them whole...

cikmanggis - betul CM. Berkebun cara organik ni banyak sekali dugaannya kan? Harap chutney tu jadi, rasanaya untuk CM kena tambah cilinya.

p3chandan - thank you for droppping by! Lovely to have a neew garden visitor :) Luckily so far I've managed to avoid fruit fly, but I get a lot of stink bus and aphids.

grace - don't let the cuteness fool you. They are a real pain sometimes! But I suppose I'd rather look at these guys than the scary Gollum ones you guys have.

pigpigscorner - :) Sometimes I think, there's too much!

Barbara Bakes - unfortunately they're a protected species, otherwise there would have been fried possum a long time ago :)

Beth - hang in there. I'll be enviously reading posts about berries and stone fruit soon enough.

Y said...

Would you believe, our first tomatoes of the season recently made an appearance but before we could even blink, they disappeared off the vine without even a thank you note! Damn possums!

shaz said...

I'm hearing ya Y!

Y said...

PS: Almost feel like I should apologise for your family not liking the healthy (?) bird seed. If you can't manage to eat it all, send some my way! I love those bars :)

shaz said...

I love them too Y, hubby does make (what he thinks are) funny comments about budgies whenever I request a piece. But it's their loss really. I'm definitely making those bars again, and again.

Barbara said...

Frankly, I LIKE higgeldy-piggeldy. My garden used to be like that too and I think there's a special charm to gardens like yours. I loved the tour, welcome guests or not. :)

Nice chutney, Shaz!

JT @ areyouhungary said...

Ah Shaz, believe it or not I'd kill for a garden like yours. I'm currently fighting a battle with looper caterpillars who are determined to eat one of my only remaining herbs, the basil!

shaz said...

Thank you Barbar :) I like the randomness but sometimes when I am trying to pick my way through the pumpkin vine I think perhaps I shoudl have planned a bit better!

JT- oooh, I hate those pesky caterpillars. I used to have lots of those white butterflies, then recently they diminished a little. I read somewhere that they get confused if other plants are grown near their food source (the butterflies recognise plant shapes), so maybe my higgledy piggledy method makes sens after all :)