Blasted Blight: or What to do with Green Tomatoes

I started the season with ten lovely tomato plants. A few heirloom, some beefsteak, others. All went well for quite a while. We made it through June, July (even with two weeks of neglect while I was at Hamline University), into August. But then the cool nights hit, and the wet days, and the icky constant dampness. Blight set in.

Last weekend I sacrificed nine of my ten beloved lovelies to the fire pit (you can't compost blighted plants), and with St. Nick's help salvaged as many tomatoes as I possibly could. About two thirds of the maters we gathered:

Seriously, what do you do with this many green tomatoes?

Seriously, what do you do with this many green tomatoes?

That's a lot of green tomatoes. What on earth would I do with all these absurd green tomatoes? I live in Michigan. We don't fry them up here. I wasn't about to pitch them, though. So, Google to the rescue! I found two lovely canning recipes for green tomatoes.

Imagine an entire day slicing and chopping and cooking and stirring, all the while Dr. D checking in, thinking I'd lost my blinging mind. Lemon and Green Tomato Marmalade? Apple and Green Tomato Chutney/Mincemeat? Was I insane?

Maybe a little.

Sliced green tomatoes

Sliced green tomatoes

Or maybe not. Below is the marmalade, which tastes just a bit like lemon drop candies (only better). The original recipe from the NY Times, and mine with a few alterations:

Lemon and Green Tomato Marmalade

Lemon and Green Tomato Marmalade

Lemon & Green Tomato Marmalade

1 lemon, seeded and thinly sliced
2.5 lbs (about 5 lg) green tomatoes, cored, seeded, thinly sliced
3 1/4 C sugar
2 T lemon juice
1/8 C water
1/8 C vinegar
pinch salt
2 T liquid pectin (as needed)

Instructions:

  1. Boil the lemon slices in water for just a moment, drain.

  2. Combine all remaining ingredients and simmer until thickened. The NY Times site says 20-30 minutes, but HAHAHAHAHAHAH! that's funny. It's more like 2-3 hours. The key is to cook it until the jelly/thick sheeting point. If you've never made jam or maple syrup, this may be a new term.

Sheeting is this: when you dip a spoon into the pot and pull it out, the final drips will come together and fall off the spoon in a sheet (vs. individual drips). Watching a boiling pot and checking every thirty seconds for sheeting is an odd and effective torture. I think many governments will be making use of it soon.

Finally: Fill jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace, process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.

Yield: about 3 half pints.

And the chutney, zippy and delicious. The original recipe here, though more an inspiration than anything, and mine below:

Green Tomato Chutney Yum yum yummy!

Green Tomato Chutney Yum yum yummy!

Zippy Apple Green Tomato Chutney

3 C currants, raisins, dried cranberries (one or a mix)
4 1/2 C chopped green tomatoes (again, cored and seeded)
4 1/2 C chopped apples (peeled)
1 lemon, seeded, quartered, sliced thin + 2 T lemon juice
2 C minced onion
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 C honey
1 C vinegar
1 C water
1/2 t cayenne pepper
2 t ground ginger

  1. Combine everything and bring to a simmering boil. Cook until tender, about 30 minutes.

  2. Ladle into sterile jars.

  3. Process 15 minutes.

Yield: about 9 half pints.

Now, just for kicks I made four half pints of this, then I played with the spices. I added:

1/4 C brown sugar
allspice
cinnamon
a touch more lemon juice

Oh my word. Awesome. Sweetness with a zing. It reminded me of Izzy'sHot Brown Sugar ice cream (one of the best I've ever had, at THE BEST ice cream parlor I've ever visited).

What do you do with chutney? I've heard that some folk serve it over ice cream or mix it in yogurt. That sounds bizarre to me, but to each his/her own. I'd serve with curry, roast, or add it to a coffee cake or quick bread mix. I'd even use it for a mincemeat pie. I have nine jars of it, so I better figure out some way to use it, right? Right.