So, we finally got a good hard frost in Boise the other night, the 24th or so of October. Late for us! When the frost comes, many of the plants in the garden turn instantly black, and kind of weirdly smelly. Though it’s not a pretty sight, I have to admit that the first hard frost is one of my favorite days of the year. It means the farm season is winding down and that I will soon get some well-deserved rest, once all the cleanup is done. I also love to go out the day or two before the frost and bring in as many things as I can from the field. Tomatoes, peppers, basil, tomatillos, squash, will all turn to mush. A few more weeks of abundance can be harvested from boxes in the storeroom, or canned or frozen to last us the winter.
So, we’ve been canning like mad since mid-summer, and I’ve been meaning to send out a canning recipe or two to you, our dear readers. It’s a little bit of a tedious process and requires you to be at home for several hours in a row. I’m kinda too tired of it to write too much about it…..but also very content with our storeroom full of jars. If you’ve never done any canning before, and have extra stuff that you just gleaned from the garden, I recommend having a look at the Ball Blue Book, made by the makers of the Ball canning jars. Or check out their website for the simplest instructions on basic stuff like canning tomatoes, plus all sorts of more interesting recipes.
Basically, the main thing for canning is to use a tested canning recipe. You can’t just make any sauce you want and put it in a jar, because the ph might not be right, and it could spoil. We do all of our canning in a hot water bath, just a big pot of boiling water. A pressure canner is only necessary for low-acid foods like green beans.
So, last year I made a number of chutneys and sauces, and all of them got used up! This one was one of our favorites, and it’s a perfect post-frost recipe because you probably have an excess of green tomatoes, and apples are at their crunchy best right now.
Green Tomato and Apple Chutney
- 4 lbs green tomatoes
- 1 lb cooking apples
- 1 lb onions
- 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 3 Tbsp pickling spice
- 2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
Chop tomatoes, onions and apples and place in a large pot with salt. No need to peel the green tomatoes, it’s nearly impossible to peel them anyway. Tie the picking spice in a piece of cheesecloth and add to the pot. Add half the vinegar and bring to a boil. Simmer for one hour, until chutney is reduced and thick. In another pot, combine the rest of the vinegar and the sugar and heat gently, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add to the pot with the chutney.
I usually at least double this recipe, and have found that I have to simmer it for quite a while before the chutney thickens as much as I want it to. Be patient and stir frequently. Don’t let it stick to the pot. You can easily put the finished pot of chutney in the fridge and do the canning the next day, just be sure to bring it to a boil again before you put it in jars.
When you’re ready to can, get your canner pot of water boiling, and put your jars in to sterilize them. (If you’re lucky enough to have a dishwasher, unlike us, you can run them through there to sterilize them instead.) Spoon hot chutney into hot jars, using a funnel to make it easier. Heat another pot of water to just below boiling, and place your lids in it for a few minutes. Make sure you don’t have any drips on the jar rims, then fit the lids onto the jars and tighten the rings. Place in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.
I recommend letting this or any chutney sit in its jars for about a month before you use it, gives the vinegar some time to mellow out a little. We liked to use this on sandwiches with meats from Smoky Davis, and for making tuna melts. Just mix a can of tuna with a similar amount of green tomato chutney, spread it on bread, top with a slice of cheese, and warm under your broiler. Delicious instant meal!