Saturday, 3 October 2009

Green Tomato Pickle

Hmm.  I just looked at the last date stamp.  I guess it's partly to do with making the most of Traci not working and being home briefly before she heads back to the States at the end of the month.  The blog comes second to real life sometimes.

I finally came to the conclusion that tomato season was Over.  It's been going on a while, but it's definitely past now.  Chilli season hasn't gone yet - they're still ripening on the plants.  It's probably time they made it down off the roof though.  There were MANY tomatoes still green - next time, I shall endeavor not to be moving house in June and hence able to plant them out in mid May, which would mean they'd have a few more weeks growing time than this year.  My San Marzanos didn't really ripen at all, which was a shame.  They did grow huge great tomatoes though, too good to miss, so I picked The Lot.  Everything I could find that was still on the plants.

...this resulted in three kilos of under ripe fruit.  THREE KILOS!  That's masses.  Handily, green tomatoes are useful things.  I've made them into the base for chilli before, and when there are fewer I've made fried green tomatoes (remember folks: this is what happens when you live with someone from the American South...).  This time, 1kg became half of a green tomato and split pea curry.  It had the texture of mashed potato but it tasted good.  Copious quantities of garam masala, chillies, garlic, ginger, curry leaves and coconut milk make ANYTHING taste ace.  Slightly sour, slightly sweet green tomatoes are great for currying.

1kg made enough for two of us to stuff ourselves AND put two more meals worth in the freezer.  I wasn't making the rest of these into curry, nor could I face eating nothing but sour green tomatoes for two weeks.  So.  An experiment in preserving has ensued.  I don't really eat the kind of chutney you have with cheese sandwiches.  Less that I don't like it, more that its space in my life is very nicely filled with Marmite" (mmmm marmite). I do, though, love to have pickle with my curries - pre-made ones from the supermarket start to taste closer to real when you have pickle with them. Home-made ones that miss the mark slightly come alive with a bit of pickle. So that was my choice.

The internet wasn't particularly good on pickle recipes. We found this one, but if you read it you'll see that the ingredients in the list don't actually match what's going on in the directions. I sort of figured something out when we got to it, anyway - it's mostly just useful for approximate quantities of vinegar and oil. It would have been good for salt, too, except I was left guessing at that... I also had a guess at the correct method for sterilising and sealing kilner jars - it seems to have worked, but there may well be better ways and it's not like I've kept anything in them for very long yet...

Green Tomato Pickle

I made this in 1kg batches, it was simpler that way. For 2kg of fruit I used 3 3inch tall kilner jars and 4 little 250ml (ish) jam jars. I'd probably just use whatever empty jars with metal lids I had to hand doing this again though - screw top jars are fine.

1 kg green tomatoes, diced. I'm pretty sure it would work with regular tomatoes, too, but it would obviously be sweeter.
2 tsp very finely chopped garlic
2 tsp very finely chopped ginger
1 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tbsp mustard seeds (I used a mix of black and yellow because that's what I had...)
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 cup (235ml) sunflower/vegetable oil
1 cup white vinegar (I used malt, because it's what was in the cupboard...)
A handful of curry leaves - ask any Indian grocer, they really make a difference.
12 inch long hot green chillies, stems cut off but otherwise left whole
1 tsp hot chilli powder
Salt - around 1 and a half tsp? You'll have to taste. It's a condiment, salty is ok.

Boil your jars and lids for the time it takes to do everything else.

Heat the oil and add the whole spices. Fry for a few minutes then add the ginger and garlic and fry for a few more minutes. Add the tomatoes and chillies and stir to coat, making sure the seeds are well distributed. Cook for about ten minutes until the fruit has begun to soften and the oil is floating on the top. Add the ground spices and stir again, then add the vinegar, salt and curry leaves. Stir to combine and turn off the heat. Remove the jars from their water bath using tongs and drain out enough water to fill every jar that fitted in the pot. Fill them, and then return them to the water bath with their lids closed but not tightly - the point of the subsequent boiling is to evacuate the air still inside the jars so the lid has to open a crack to let the air move. Boil them for 10 minutes, then carefully remove and tighten the lids. When they cool, they'll suck the lids tightly closed and hopefully seal nicely for 3-6 months. The high acid content should help keep them good for a while.

By the way? The drips from this tasted ACE. Not that spicy yet, but they should pack a punch after a week or two I think. YUM.

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