I was standing in my garden looking at a collection of tiny, stubbornly green tomatoes in despair last week. Surely all this time and effort cannot have come to this, I thought mournfully. Ok, well not that much effort, but there was a good deal of fretting, peering through foggy plastic propagation tray lids, trying to find a watering device that wouldn’t flatten the tiny seedlings etc… The little gits were simply not going to ripen. Not now. Not in November.
Then I felt something stirring in the dim and distant reaches of my tired mind. Something just behind a heap of disordered thoughts about irregular German verbs. Wasn’t this a fairly common problem? Wasn’t there a solution to this fairly common problem? Then it hit me.
Green tomato chutney
Makes one fairly small jar
450g / 1lb green tomatoes
50g / 2oz raisins
3 small red chillis
some root ginger
pinch of salt
100g / 4oz sugar
Wash and finely chop the tomatoes. Peel and chop the onion and the apple. Core the apple. Put the tomatoes, onion and apple in a pan and add half the vinegar. Bruise the chillies and ginger and tie in a muslin bag. Add the raisins to the pan and cook until soft and pulpy. Add the remaining vinegar, salt, sugar and stir well. Continue cooking until thick, pressing the bag of spices occasionally with a wooden spoon. Remove the bag, pot into warm jars (or jar, in my case) and cover.
The great thing about this recipe (which I nicked from the Women’s Institute Book of Preserves and Pickles) is its brilliant simplicity. The WI are not ones for faffing about with mincers, or skimming scum off the top of the pan with a golden ladle or any of that nonsense. Wang it all in, simmer it down, job done. And it tastes divine. If all my tomatoes ripen next year I’m going to be thoroughly miffed.