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Tuesday, 31 July 2007

A Glut of Homegrown Tomatoes

This year I decided to grow tomatoes in my greenhouse, fresh from the vine - yum. As they say it’s like waiting for a bus to come along, you wait and wait nothing, and then all of a sudden a row of buses turn up all at once. Well my tomatoes have been like those buses, all green and not ripening until hey presto this week I hit jackpot. Today I pulled 900g (2lb) of juicy red toms from my plants.

Putting my thinking cap, I thought I’d make gorgeous Tomato chutney today. I find it relaxing pottering about making preserves, something extra to eat for sheer treats on those blustery Autumn/Winter days. It’s like a ray of sunshine once again as you open up a delightful jar of preserve be it, Strawberry Jam to have with fresh baked scones for instance or chutney served with a good ploughman’s roll.

* Come a little closer whilst I whisper to you *, it’s so easy to make and only takes about 1 hour. So when you bring out a jar of ‘homemade chutney’ for your guests they will think you are a ‘domestic goddess’… lol. Please do have a go, you don’t need a preserving pan especially for the job (nice if you have one though), use a non-reactive heavy based large pan. I save jars all the time for different preserves now; it cuts down on costs of equipment and my little way of recycling.

I don’t see any reason why not to use different sugars, soft brown for instance, playing around with spices you would prefer perhaps? After all that is what cooking is all about making something to suit your taste buds. I would recommend leaving the chutney for at least a month to develop its flavours. Store in a dry, cool, dark place.

Here’s my recipe for Tomato Chutney if you would like to try it out.

Tomato Chutney

This recipe fills one large kilner jar and one 1lb jar. If using normal metal lids with glass jars, it’s advisable to place some cardboard inside the lid to stop the vinegar rusting the metal.

Stage 1
900g (2lb) ripe tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped
450g (1lb) onions, finely chopped
450g (1lb) cooking apples, peeled, cored and grated
450ml (3/4 pint) white wine vinegar
Stage 2
350g (12 oz) sugar, (I used white)
300g (10 oz) sultanas
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground ginger
A good pinch or two of Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning


Take a tomato and at the base, make a cross just into the skin, carry this on with all the remaining tomatoes and place in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over the tomatoes and leave for about 1 minute. With a slotted spoon carefully remove the tomatoes and peel off all the skins and chop them up, then place them in a preserving pan. Add the finely chopped onions and grated apple to the tomatoes.

Stage 1 ingredients: Simmer the above ingredients over a low heat until they become tender. This can take awhile depending on how slowly you simmer the ingredients.

At this stage, wash and rinse your jars and lids and dry them. Place the glass jars in the oven at 150°C on a metal tray to sterilise. Boil in a saucepan, either your metal lids or rubber rings for kilner jars to sterilise. * Note above on metal lids*

Stage 2 ingredients: Add the sugar to the pan and stir until all the sugar is dissolved, then add the sultanas, ground ginger, mixed spice and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil stirring so the chutney doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan. Keep boiling away until the mixture becomes a thick consistency like say jam.

Pot up into the warmed sterilised jars and seal. I would leave the chutney for at least 1 month before opening to let the flavours develop. Store in a dark cool place.

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