Raiding the larder of ideas.

What one family eats, plans to eat, dreams of eating. Plus, other food and kitchen-related stuff from the home of steak-and-potatoes, pie and fresh green beans from the garden.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Green Tomatoes, Not Fried

Jars! I relish them! Also, I just plain preserve what I can.

What does a person do when, as the growing season comes to an end, there are still piles of green tomatoes on the dying vines? 

Well, I'm told that most people allow those little marbles of acid to be added to the compost heap. I, on the other hand, like to savor every last bite of summer as long as I can (I love the foods, even though I hate the heat).

So, today, I started the process for making green tomato relish. It's the kind of thing you need to set aside two days for, because the vegetables need to brine themselves half to death before you can add the seasoning, the vinegar, and the cooking/canning.

So, to begin. gather supplies and ingredients. 

There was a gallon bucket of green 'maters.
Green Tomatoes. You know you want some.

And then there were these cute little baby sweet peppers in the fridge (instead of the recipe's recommended green and red bell peppers), and some sweet (Vidalia) onions...

Suh-WEET! peppers and onions…
 Plus, I had a very nice-looking recipe in one of my more recent additions to the kitchen library, the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving   The world was now my oyster. Or, at least, it was my pickle-jar. 

Oh, yes. Jars. You need five half-pint Ball or Kerr sturdy mason jars – sterilized in the dishwasher or in a boiling water bath –  for this recipe, plus a canning kettle and the standard accompanying tools (funnel, jar lifter, etc.). This calls for a hot bath process on day two.

You'll also want a large swatch of cheesecloth out of which to make a spice bag. By "large swatch", I mean something a couple of layers thick, and, if you don't have string to tie it off, about 8x8 inches, so you have enough to tie corners across, to make a "hobo bundle".

Time to begin.

After thoroughly sorting and washing the tomatoes, I cut the cores out and cut them into quarters, to make sure there were no bad spots or unnecessary protein sources (found a stink bug in the bucket. Didn't think that its inclusion would improve the flavor of the relish).

From there, it was just a matter of following the instructions as written in the Ball book on preserving foods. More or less. I'm lazy, so instead of finely chopping the 'maters by hand, I put them through the coarse grater on the food processor. The bits of fruit came out more consistent than I'd have gotten with my best knife. 

Tomatoes grated and ready for the salt, peppers, and onions to be added before steeping overnight.
And, after all that work, I have one jar to give away to somebody special, this Christmas, and four for myself.

Oh, all right. I'll give away two of them. But only because I'm feeling saintly. And because I also put by six pints of whole green tomatoes for use in chili, later this year.

Green Tomato Relish, plus the bonus round of canned tomatoes
Green Tomato Hot Dog Relish


Day 1
6 cups finely chopped, cored green tomatoes (unpeeled)
2 medium onions, finely chopped (minced) (about 3 cups)
2 green bell peppers, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 red bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup pickling or canning salt

In a large glass or stainless steel bowl, combine green tomatoes, onions, green and red bell peppers and pickling salt. Cover and allow to stand in a cool place (70 to 75º F/ 21 to 23º C) for 12 hours or overnight. 
Just mincing my peppers. A couple of pieces fell out before they could be made teensy, so I had to eat them.

Day 2
Green tomato mixture in salt
1/2 to 1 full teaspoon whole cloves (since our household is not fans of the taste of cloves, I prefer the lower quantity)
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 (4-inch / 10 cm) cinnamon stick, broken in half
2 cups white vinegar (I used rice vinegar – it's an allergy thing)
1 1/2 cups lightly packed light brown sugar
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (about 1/2 teaspoon)
1 Tablespoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt (I prefer kosher salt)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
a few drops of food coloring (optional)


Remove cover from bowl of green tomatoes, onions, peppers, and salt. Transfer to a colander placed over a sink and allow to drain. Rinse thoroughly with cool water and drain. Using your hands, squeeze out excess liquid. Set aside. 

Lather, rinse, repeat…erm, no, just thoroughly rinse, drain, and squish out liquids

Tie cloves, celery seeds, and cinnamon stick in a square of cheesecloth, creating a spice bag. In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, mustard, salt, ginger, and spice bag. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.

Add drained tomato mixture, stir well, and return to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to boil gently, stirring often, until tomatoes are transparent (about 1 hour). Remove and discard spice bag. Add a few drops of green and yellow food coloring, to your preferred shade of green (I used about 4 drops of green, 2 of yellow).

Meanwhile, prepare canner, jars, and lids according to manufacturer's recommendations. (Canner should be filled with water sufficient to cover the jars to at least 1/2 inch above the tops of the jars.)

Ladle hot relish into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch (1 cm) headspace (some of the newer jars actually have a "fill to" line beneath the screwtop ridge. It's very helpful.) Wipe rim with clean damp cloth or paper towel. Center lid on jar, screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to finger-tight.

Place jars in canner, being sure they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil, process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, then remove jars to cool on a dry towel.

Once they are cooled, remove the screw band, and store*.     

*If you have relatively hard water, or an older canner, you may have some mineral deposits on your jars and lids. It's best to deal with that stuff right away as soon as they're cool, before you try to label your jars. Washing them with vinegar water will get them sparkling and sticky-label or marker ready.