Using green tomatoes

Posted: Friday 21 September 2012
by Kate Bradbury

From my two outdoor-grown tomato plants, I’ve harvested just two ripe tomatoes. But, luckily, I found a recipe for green tomato relish.

Unripe, green tomatoes

I seem to have set some sort of record this year: from my two outdoor-grown tomato plants, I’ve harvested just two ripe tomatoes. 

I blame the weather, obviously. The endless rain, cold conditions and lack of sunshine in late spring and early summer meant the plants didn’t produce any flowers until August. But by then it was all too late. Now it’s late September and there’s a definite nip in the air. No home-made, home-grown tomato sauces for me.

So, yesterday I took the plants down, salvaging large trusses of bulging green tomatoes, before putting the haulms on the compost

I’m not a huge fan of green tomato chutney. Perhaps I’ve just not found the right recipe. And the trick of putting the fruit in a bag with a banana to aid ripening just depresses me – I can’t help but see that as a sign of a failed harvest. I wanted to celebrate my green tomatoes, to make use of them and enjoy them. 

Luckily, I found a recipe for green tomato relish. Also known as chow chow, this pickled relish is a delicacy enjoyed in the American South, although it’s thought to come from Nova Scotia originally. Recipes can vary, but the main ingredient is green tomatoes. Joy.

The recipe is quite approximate. I had about four pounds of tomatoes, which I whizzed up in the food processor with two (bought) red peppers and an onion. I put this mixture in a pan with three tablespoons of mustard seeds and three of sugar, a handful of chopped chillies, half a tablespoon of salt and a glug of vinegar. I then simmered the mixture for two hours, stirring occasionally. The end result just about fitted into a large air-tight storage jar (about 750ml).

What a success! My relish is delicious and will be the perfect accompaniment to cheese and biscuits, and veggie sausages. It looks pretty, too – despite the ratio of tomatoes to peppers, the relish is a nice red-brown.

I no longer see my tomato harvest as a failure, though I do love home-made tomato sauce. But now I also love green tomato relish. Every cloud…

A jar of green tomato relish

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Warthog 21/09/2012 at 16:49

I grew six tomato vines in my porch up here at 1000 ft in the North Pennines, provided me with a constant supply for myself from late August. I took them down before going away on holiday and made 4 pounds of green tomato jam with the unripe fruit, but will certainly try the relish next year, thanks.

jo4eyes 21/09/2012 at 17:00

I'm banned from doing any green tomato chutney this year. We're still working our way through 09,10 etc!

Somebody said about 'frying up' green tomatoes & since 1 of my plants- supposed to be a yellow cherry, but way too big for that now- has loads still definitely green, will be trying that.

The other 2 plants- Sungold & Gardeners Delight- are ripening well now in a part- shade greenhouse in Manchester, so no, well not much, sun this year!

I empty things out of greenhouse at the end of September & any unripe ones go onto trays on various window sills in the house. The majority do eventually ripen. J.

yolande 2 21/09/2012 at 23:51

Carefulll! Green tomatoes are not good for your health, they should be cooked!!1 Otherwise you will be sick with a sort of flu!!!

oldchippy 23/09/2012 at 15:57

Hi Kate,many years ago I had an allotment and I grow some potatoes that had green fruit growing on the stems which I was told they were poisonous, so they were taken off and binned .


Kate Bradbury 23/09/2012 at 22:07

Thanks for your comments

@warthog - ooh green tomato jam, recipe please!

@yolande 2 - thanks for that, but I hope two hours of simmering constitutes cooking!

@oldchippy - I love seeing those green potato fruits, even though they're poisonous!


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