Green Tomato Relish or Chow Chow

As the nights get colder and our days get shorted those lovely tomatoes stop ripening and we are left with Green Tomatoes. Those hard and flavorless reminders of what will not come. Now is the time to make hard choices, try hanging them on the vine in the garage and see what happens, toss them in the compost bin, or make Green Tomato relish.

These tomatoes are generally not green beefsteaks or other large tomato that would lend itself to breading and frying. They are Roma’s, Willamette valley etc. They didn’t start growing on the vine until late in the season, so they didn’t have time to ripen before the season was over.

A few years ago we had a horrid season.  There were more un-ripened tomatoes than ripened ones. Very disappointing. I went on an internet search and discovered Chow Chow and Green Tomato Relish. The difference between Green Tomato Relish and Chow Chow is that Chow Chow includes cabbage and hot peppers. Over the years I have thought of making a true Chow Chow but opted for the easier preference of a semi sweet relish, much like a pickle relish.

We no longer buy pickle relish and use our tomato relish for hamburgers, hot dogs, tuna fish salad or anything you would use a pickle relish for.

The tomatoes can be orange or red, they do not all have to be green to end up in the jar.

The Green Tomato Relish is super easy to make. Simply chop tomatoes, red and green bell peppers, onions, and add salt, sugar and vinegar, mustard seed and celery seed. Combine all finely chopped ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes or more, then can the relish.

Use the following ingredient quantities and adjust for how many tomatoes you have.

  • 5 pounds green tomatoes
  • 3 red and 3 green bell peppers
  • 2 1/2 pounds onions
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons each of mustard seed and celery seeds

Chow Chow is a spicier southern version. The recipe I would like to try is from the internet site Taste of Southern. It takes longer to prep and cook but the results look fabulous.

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Last of the tomatoes, red and juicy, just right for crushed tomatoes

Too many to just eat, but not enough for a major canning job. We have canned tomatoes for sauce for years but there is always the end of season leftovers..

Here we are dealing with the last of the ripe tomatoes. Next we will deal with the green tomatoes still hanging on the vine.

All of our quart containers are in use so that helped with the decision to make some ‘crushed’ tomatoes with basil. Simply clean and quarter the tomatoes, then put a quarter of them on the stove and bring to a light boil with onion, salt, pepper and dried herbs to taste, we always blend our herbs after the individual tins have been filled (oregano, marjoram, basil, savory and thyme).

Turn off the heat and take the boat motor (hand blender) to the tomatoes to puree them..

Add the rest of the tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

For canning, I used our last pint and half pint jars. Put a teaspoon or so of lemon juice and a sprig of fresh basil in the jar, then fill to 1/2 inch of the top and can as usual.

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Roasted Marinara, thick and tasty

Canning season is here, so get Peter Piper’s Pickles picked and go to work. Well, we like pickles but not that much. What we do love is a great tomato sauce.

A great tomato sauce? Yes a sauce for all occasions, with a tomato flavor to knock your socks off. The only way that’s going to happen, is to use farm fresh tomatoes, and make it yourself.

We purchased our tomatoes, yes purchased. Our little garden consists of 10 tomato plants that get half the sunlight they need, great for our table use, some drying and a little canning, but not enough for the pantry.

We went to Wilco, a local farm hardware and supply for their once a year canning sale. We purchased 40 pounds of tomatoes, 20 pounds of onions, and a case of apples for Francene’s applesauce.

The preparation is pretty straight forward, but does take most of the day.

Pick your weapon of choice. I would love to tell you which one, but everyone has their preference and hand size. I opted for the Nakiri and a paring knife, and a 10″ chef’s knife for the onions. Francene used her 5″ Petite Santoku.

Half or quarter, depending on tomato size and remove most of the seeds. Also, do a very rough or large chop of as many onions as you would care to have in your Marinara sauce, same with bell peppers. We did probably 8 pounds of onions and 6 large peppers.

Now start the roasting, I use a little sea salt and some of our garden herb mix.  Place on cooling racks on baking sheets and roast for 30 minutes at 425° . Remove from oven and transfer to a container large enough to hold everything. Continue for the next several hours. If you know you will be seasoning towards a Latin flavor or Italian flavor you might as well have an appropriate drink or two along the way.

After everything has been roasted, transfer the roasted tomatoes, onions and peppers with a large slotted spoon leaving the liquid behind.

We now ran the batch through a food processor to achieve a coarse consistency. Then we brought everything up to a simmer on the stove top, seasoned to taste remembering that the final use hadn’t been decided. In other words, allow for a re-seasoning appropriate for the dish it will be used in.

Follow the canning instructions for your canning equipment. We show both the large pot and the pressure cooker. We use the pressure cooker as a second large pot.

We ended up with 12 quarts of marinara.  With that great hindsight most of us have, we should have gone for 24 pints of a very rich and thick marinara sauce. Probably about 1/3  of the way between a normal marinara and paste.

This allows us to use full thickness, or thin with water or use either stock or wine as a thinner.

I must add that I always just cooked my tomatoes, seasoned them and canned them. But my friend, Kris Horn, told me how she likes to roast the marinara ingredients and also adds what ever strikes her fancy at the time. You could add most anything like carrots, artichoke hearts etc. to end up with YOUR sauce..

I tried roasting and then freezing two years ago, cooking and canning last year, and this year roasting and canning. I think this will be the preferable way from now on.

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Canning Apple Sauce with an Indian Flair

We do applesauce every year and we love East Indian cuisine.

I’m not going to tell you how peal and core an apple, or how to cook it or do the canning. What I am going to suggest is that you try replacing your own spice mix with a little Garam Masala.

This Indian spice mix is regional and chef specif. Different brands will be just that, different.

I like to buy bulk spices and this give you the opportunity to smell what is being offered. Garam masala generally is a mix of, or will include coriander, cumin, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In other variations on garam masala, ingredients may include turmeric, saffron, fennel seeds, ginger, garlic, mustard seeds, mace, star anise, tamarind, fenugreek, bay leaves or Malabar leaves.

The mix is wonderful and we found makes the applesauce a welcome side. Try adding a little and taste. Keep adding until a big smile appears on your face.

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