Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How d'ya like THEM tomatoes?

Here's what I wish I'd known long ago:  Green Tomatoes.

Raised as I was on supermarket food, the only tomatoes I saw when I was growing up were the red kind -- y'know, the kind that grows in styrofoam trays.  As a teen (or young adult?), I'd read Fannie Flagg's novel Fried Green Tomatoes, but I read it at the same time I read Like Water for Chocolate, and the juxtaposition of those novels just made green tomatoes all the more exotic -- like mangoes, or plantains, or tahini sauce.  Food from a distant country (or at least, from the deep south), prepared only by people with the special knowledge of special cuisine.  Purchased in stores that smell like curry or tabasco.

And then, as I started moving the dirt around in my backyard over the weekend, I stared balefully at the hibernating tomatoes on my many tomato vines.  These babies had started their lives in canning jars on my window sill this past March, and I was really hoping they'd work their way back into those jars someday, but the cool September and October days had put them all a dormant state.  These tomatoes were just not going to turn red on me.  And it was time to pull the plants out of the ground so I could move the sidewalk into their space.

So I put all my green tomatoes into my garden bucket (a re-purposed kitty litter bucket), tossed the vines onto the compost pile, and moved my sidewalk around.  And when I finally came in the house, I got on the internet and did some searching.
A few of my dormant tomatoes . . . 
My tomatoes might be green tomatoes, but what I eventually discovered is pure gold. I am in love. And the name of my new paramour is Green Tomato Chutney.

I'm going to say it again (like Tony in West Side Story singing "Maria"):  Green tomato chutney, green tomato chutney, green tomato chutney.

And here's how that song goes:

Make a hot oil bath for anointing the beloved tomatoes:  add spices (garlic, ginger, cardamom, cumin, mustard, chili peppers).   Don't be stingy with the garlic or ginger!

Once the hot aromatic oil bath is ready, add some pickle-y things:  a heap o' salt, a bit of sugar, and some vinegar.   Stir it up and, and then add the diced green tomatoes.

The site that I got this recipe from says to bring to a boil and simmer for 2-3 hours.  Having lunched on this after a brief (20 minute) simmer and dined on it after a long (2 hour) simmer, I'd vote for brief:  the concoction is delicious when the tomatoes are still a bit crunchy-yet-hot.   But even soft tomatoes with the oil and spices and such are yum.  Yum. Wish I'd known this years ago.

Thanks a million to Sacha McGregor, who posted the recipe that I modified and then enjoyed.  

1 comment:

  1. We also love just frying up the green tomato slices with panko in our house. Yum! A definite benefit of planting one's own garden.