Tuesday, October 01, 2013

When Life Doesn't Ripen Your Tomatoes?

Make Chutney.

Early in the summer, as in every year we've lived here, we planted tomatoes.  A lot of tomatoes.

Precisely five ripened.

Yes, you read that right.  Five.

Therefore, come Saturday, I realised I had nearly 2 kilos of unripened, green tomatoes to dispose of.  I was loathe to fry them all, and googling brought up the concept of a chutney instead.  I ummed and ah-ed and to-ed and fro-ed between two recipes, and eventually settled on this one, mainly because it used the weight of tomatoes that I actually had.  So I checked the status of our spice stores and empty jars - I knew I kept them all for a reason! - and, with the aid of two apples from the farmers market, I ploughed ahead.  I cannot recommend this enough, not least because it makes your house smell absolutely divine during and after the process for days.

 Did you know that tomatoes ripen from the inside?  Me neither.  But I suppose I'd never thought about it until I saw these beauties on Saturday.
You salt the apples and tomatoes, with some lemon zest and lemon flesh.  Handily, I'd just managed to peel a teeny bit of skin off my little finger, so that lemon was very welcome.  Then you mix up oil, TWO whole heads of garlic, numerous chilli peppers (one from our garden), and ginger.  I was extremely proud of myself from abstaining from rubbing my chillied fingers on my eyes pre-contact lens insertion.  Miraculous.
 You fry up fenugreek seeds, peppercorns, cardamom seeds, mustard seeds, ground cumin and turmeric, and then when the mustard seeds pop, add in the garlic/chilli/ginger paste and cook up for 5 minutes or so.
 You add the tomatoes, some sugar (we only had Demerara), apple cider vinegar (probably 150ml or so), boil to dissolve all the sugar, and then simmer for ages and ages to thicken.  It said 2-3 hours, but we did it for at least four hours, then allowed to stand overnight and deposited it into the aforementioned jars the next morning.

And... it is absolutely bloody awesome.  Brilliant.  We took a jar to give to a friend yesterday (yes, we're those gift-givers - homemade preserves), and tonight I had grilled chicken, vegetables, and a large dollop of chutney.  I'm basically going to have it with everything I make for the next two months.

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