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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.

cherry preserves with goat milk brie

 

She had me at you can serve them with roasted duck breast.  Cherries are still in season and despite the lack of gel factor on my last cherry jam adventure Sherri Brooks Vinton’s Classic Cherry Preserves recipe sucked me in.  Once again I found myself creating cherry carnage in the kitchen by pitting 3 pounds of sweet cherries – this time for Cherry & Black Pepper Preserves.   This recipe results in a rich preserve with a little pepper kick to spice things up.  It goes without saying – use freshly ground pepper to really make this preserve pop.   

coffee grinder makes quick work of peppercorns when large quantities are needed

 

Sheri Brooks Vinton’s book, Put ’em Up, has some great preserving recipes and tips.  I had been using freshly squeezed lemon juice in my recipes – but Sheri says no – use bottled.  The reason – lemons vary in acidity, who knew.  By using bottled lemon juice you get the same level of acidity every time.  Acid is important in preserving to limit bacteria grow and to help with gel set – so consistency is good.   

basic components of a classic jam – fruit, sugar and lemon juice

She is also a proponent of the classic or long cook method of jam making that doesn’t use additional pectin to reach gel set.  A longer cooking time results in a richer jam compared to quick cook methods that use added pectin.  Of course sometimes a little added pectin can assist a classic.  Learning my lesson from the last cherry jam experience – I checked gel set after the alloted boiling time.  Not quite set – boiled a little longer – still not set – and a little bit longer – still not quite set.  So what is a starting to get impatient girl to do – add a little pectin.  I added about a 1/4 of a package of powdered pectin – boiled for a minute and voila – gel set.  Whew!   

Cherry & Black Cherry Preserves Recipe from Sherry Brooks Vinton’s Put ’em Up   

Makes approximately three 1/2 pints   

3 pounds cherries – stemmed and pitted   

1 cup sugar   

1/4 cup bottled lemon juice   

1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper   

additional pectin (if needed)   

Place cherries and a splash of water in a non-reactive pot – heat over medium heat stirring and smashing fruit until mixture boils.  Add sugar, stirring until dissolved, then the lemon juice and pepper.  Continue cooking and stirring until gel set is reached (20+ minutes).  If necessary you can add sprinkle of additional pectin if jam is not setting.  Once set turn heat off and let rest, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.  Ladle into prepared 1/2 pint jars – releasing any trapped air.  Leave approximately 1/4 inch head space.  Process in boiling water canner for 10 minutes.