As Autumn starts to wind up, two things happen in our home.
1. We start to wear jumpers again, lots of them, and
2. All our baskets, kitchen bowls, pots and buckets end up in the garden as harvest vessels for fresh produce. Recently they’re been full of tomatoes, especially green ones as it’s time to make way for winter crops and green manures, so we ripped them out ruthlessly.
But what do you do with over 40kg of green tomatoes? Here are some options, some good, some great and some I’m not so sure about -but here they are anyway.
1. Green Tomato Chutney
This option is quick, easy and tasty – a highly desirable combination. What recipe do I use? Well I used to have an old CWA (Country Women’s Association) cook book with some solid recipes which I loosely followed, but just halved the sugar they recommended. These days I don’t follow a recipe at all, so it’s different every time… Sorry. But I looked around for you and you can see some recipes here and here. We love having too much chutney on our shelves as we gift it to our friends and also use it to feed a lot of our students when running workshops.
16 litres of tomatoes dedicated to chutney – around 18 big jars worth
2. Hang the plants upside down to ripen
Again it’s quick, easy and tasty – you’ll find this theme in all food related things with me. I would do this to more plants if I had the space as you get to have fresh tomatoes well into Winter – such a treat for our cold temperate climate. To do this, choose some of the best plants and/or branches and hang them up inside your house or garden shed (as long as they are no rodents). The tomatoes will ripen slowly as the plant’s life literally drains into the fruit – kind of magical.
A good couple of bunches hanging in our sun room upside down – slowing ripening
3. Fried Green Tomatoes
Apparently this is a southern American ‘thing’. The general idea is you slice your tomatoes, dip them in a thick batter and fry them. The ones we made weren’t so amazing as we didn’t make the batter thick enough and cut the tomatoes too thick – we didn’t follow a recipe, but should have. Anyway, there are heaps of recipes out there you can (and should) follow including this one, that one plus there are also around 20 recipes for green tomato related stuff here.
A crowded stove cooking chutney on the left and fried toms on the right
4. Fermented Chow Chow
This is the one I’m most excited about and only just discovered – Basically it’s the same as making sauerkraut or kim chi, but it’s based on green tomatoes and cabbage. It doesn’t sound ‘right’, but it works – you can see the full recipe and process here.
We made around 6kg worth of this stuff with green tomatoes, kale from our garden (instead of cabbage) chilli, apple (our own touch) and carrot. It’s been sitting on our kitchen bench for the past two days and it’s smelling and tasting gooooood. Like I said, this is a pretty exciting break through in green tomato world.
We didn’t have a bowl big enough to massage the chow chow so just tipped it out onto the bench, which I don’t really recommend as it gets a bit juicy and messy – but it was fun.
We also roasted a whole bunch of them as Google told us they’d be great – but they weren’t, they were too acidic to eat without making a strange face, so I added them to the chutney pot instead.
The tomatoes which are not quite ripe go on our rather crowded and colourful kitchen bench (sorry for the blurry photo) where they’ll ripen nicely over a few days or so. I make sure I put them in shallow trays and small bowls so I can see them all and eat them when they need to be eaten. Otherwise there’s a tendency for them to rot when you put them in big bowls – less air flow.
And after all that, there’s still more. It’s almost exhausting processing them in between all the other projects on the go – but jeeze, it’s not really something to whinge about, we are blessed.
Thanks to the garden gods and goddesses for an abundant tomato crop, until next year!
* Your blogger is Hannah Moloney, co-director of Good Life Permaculture and love of all things fun and garden-esk.