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We had a cold summer here in Portland – the coldest in 17 years.  Tomatoes, cold weather and rain are not a very good combination.  Unless you had your tomato plants in a warm microclimate spot (or wrapped in Saran Wrap most of the summer like one of my wise neighbors) you, like me, are now faced with a bumper crop of green tomatoes. Now I hear that fried green tomatoes are tasty – but this is a preserving blog and fried green tomatoes don’t keep well in the pantry over the winter so I needed another solution.

Once again Darina Allen came to my rescue.  Ireland (Darina’s home base) has many of the same weather issues as Portland – so her Forgotten Skills of Cooking book had several recipes for preserving green tomatoes.  I selected the green tomato chutney recipe.  Our household has a serious homemade chutney addiction (to the point that we cannot eat store-bought anymore).  Our go-to (we really don’t feel like cooking) meal is to brown organic ground turkey, add in loads of chopped vegetables (cabbage, mushrooms and peppers being our choice) and once close to done throw in a 1/2 pint of chutney and heat through until everything is cooked.  Homemade chutney makes this 10 minute meal amazing.

This chutney recipe is fairly standard – lots of chopping followed by a long simmer with good smells.  I made a few changes given what I had in my pantry; substituting a combination of apple cider/white vinegar for the white wine vinegar and brown sugar for turbinado sugar.

Recipe – adapted from Darina Allen’s Forgotten Skills of Cooking (made 5 1/2 pints)

2 1/4 pound chopped green tomatoes

2 1/4 pound peeled and chopped cooking apples

1 pound onions – chopped

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 3/4 cup brown sugar

1 pound golden raisins

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons ground allspice

2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper

3 smashed garlic cloves

1 tablespoon salt

3 cups vinegar

Put all ingredients into a large non-reactive pot and bring to a boil over med heat.  Turn heat down and simmer for 45 minutes – stirring constantly.  Ladle into clean sterile jars.  Process in water-bath canner for 15 minutes.

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The basis for salsa verde

 

For the last two months I have been lurking on Tigress’s Can Jam.  The Can Jam is amazing and sometimes I think I should ask for a late entry option.  Each month an incredible group of bloggers selects a fruit or vegetable and they post preserving recipes for that selection.  The breadth of recipes is inspirational for newbie canners like me.  For August What Julia Ate selected tomatoes – and several of these fantastic cooks selected tomatillos, a member of the tomato family, as a base for salsa.  I was intrigued – I have eaten the green goodness that is salsa verde at many Mexican restaurants but never thought to make (and can) my own.  

You need to be careful canning tomatoes in a water bath canner – they are low on the acidity scale for water bath canning and the addition of extra vegetables – like onions and peppers may tip the recipe below the safe zone.  This means that unless you are an experienced canner or an adventuresome chemist with pH testing strips, you should follow a trusted recipe – varying only the spices (leaving the vegetable, vinegar and citrus juice ratios alone).  If the acidity is too low – you run the risk of an environment conducive to botulism in your final product.  If you are not familiar with canning protocols – the USDA home preserving site is a good place to start.  

  

My first preserving book, and one of the most trusted, is the Ball Blue Book of Preserving.  I chose their standard Tomatillo Salsa recipe.   I will say that husking tomatillos is much easier than peeling tomatoes.   The price for that simplicity – dead moths.  Moths seem to love to crawl up into the husks before meeting their maker.  The other word of warning depends on the type of peppers you choose.  I love a slow burn salsa (the type that doesn’t overwhelm you at first bite – but builds up heat slowly).  To create a slow burn salsa I chose a combination of mild and hot peppers (poblano, fresno and jalapeno).  If you choose hot peppers wear gloves while seeding and chopping.  If you forget and find your hands on fire afterwards – I learned that washing several times with Dawn, followed by a 30 minute Colgate toothpaste rub will take care of the burn.  I also learned that tomatoes and sour cream only offer temporary relief.  Finally – this recipe only makes two pints.  After reading a couple of the Can Jam posts (all of which regretted only making one batch) and given my husband’s love of salsa – I brought enough ingredients for a second batch.  

Huevos rancheros with tomatillo salsa

 

Recipe – adapted from Balls Blue Book (adjustments noted):  

5 1/2 cups of husked, chopped tomatillos (about 2 pounds)  

1 cup chopped onion  

1 cup chopped green peppers (I used jalapeno, fresno and  poblano which gave me a “slow burn” salsa)  

4 garlic cloves – minced  

2 tablespoons minced cilantro  

2 teaspoons cumin  

1/2 teaspoon salt  

1/2 teaspoon red pepper (I was out – so I ground up red pepper flakes)  

1/2 cup vinegar (they didn’t specify so I used white)  

1/4 cup lime juice  

Mix all ingredients in stock pot and bring to a boil using med-high heat.  Reduce temperature to low and simmer for 10 minutes – stirring from time to time.  Pack into sterile jars leaving 1/4 inch head space.  Process for 15 minutes in water bath canner.