After a typically British summer my tomato plants flowered abundantly during the dry spells then struggled to ripen their fruit after weeks of rain. For a short while I enjoyed cherry tomatoes plucked straight from the vine and mealtimes showered with oven roasted tomatoes.
My interest in gardening sprang from an insatiable desire for my mother-in-laws green tomato chutney; a preserve that money can’t buy and supermarkets can’t supply the main ingredient for. Growing my own green tomatoes was the only way to ensure a lifetime supply of my favourite chutney.
Dealing with over 10lbs of green tomatoes this year called for more pots than I had available. Using a slow cooker was a revelation and I still haven’t worked out why it’s never occurred to me before! I was able to make up a recipe as I went along adding vinegar, sugar and spices as teaspoon tastings dictated. For two very sour raw fruits I was surprised at how modest a measure of sugar was needed compared to other green tomato chutney recipes. For the first several hours it seems like nothing is happening and there are no vinegary fumes to give the game away. You can let it simmer on a low heat overnight (no more past-midnight bottling for me – hooray!) and in the morning jar it up at your own leisure.
to make green tomato and rhubarb chutney
1lb (450g) green tomatoes, sliced or whole if cherry tomatoes
1lb (450g) rhubarb, chunks
2 large red onions, sliced
0.5 lb (225g) apples, weight after peeling and chopping
0.25 lb (110g) raisins
0.5 pint (284ml) red wine vinegar
1.5 lb (675g) sugar
2 tsp ground allspice
- Put the tomatoes, rhubarb, onions, apple and raisins into the slow cooker and set to a medium heat. (I used frozen rhubarb which added some moisture to the pot – if using fresh add half a cup of water)
- Allow to reduce for about 4 hours or until the fruit looks like it’s starting to break down. Increase the heat setting to high and add the vinegar, sugar and spices gradually according to taste (and different combinations according to the flavours you like). Stir well as you do this and return from time to time to check it.
- Continue to cook for a further 6-8 hours or when it’s turned a rich brown colour and is the thickness you like. If leaving overnight turn down to a low heat.
- Enjoy with just about anything if you’re a chutney addict like me. My current fave is on top of cheddar or soft cheese on a thick salted rice cake.
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