Tomatoes just say ‘summer’

To a Canadian, the flavour of a just-picked garden tomato says ‘summer’. It has an intensity of taste and a sweetness unknown to the supermarket variety. The garden tomato is simply, slurppily delicious.

Recently, my son brought me a bag of his ‘just picked’ tomatoes, both garden ripe and green. The red jewels were just the way a tomato should be, lip-smacking good. They required only slicing and serving with good bread or a sprinkle of salt. However, the green tomatoes conjured up memories. When I was growing up, we always had a big vegetable garden with rows of tomatoes. Always, there were some that were green. Regardless, the green tomatoes were picked and arranged in a neat row on the window sill to ripen in their own time. Those that were reluctant to change from green to red, were transformed into a number of treasured recipes requiring this ingredient. Probably my favourite was green tomato pickle. It was meant to be served with sausages or meatloaf and was tasty too served with old cheddar cheese on crusty bread. However, I could happily eat it by the spoonful while standing at the counter.

Another dinnertime, my Mother lightly sautéed sliced green tomatoes in a tangy vinaigrette as a vegetable. I could not believe how good this simple dish tasted. Here then are some renditions of the tomato both red and green to enjoy long past summer.
Green Tomato Pickle
You will need to wash mason jars in hot sudsy water, rinse then immerse the jars in boiling water for 15 minutes to sterilize. Keep them in the hot water until ready to use. Boil the snap lids in a pot of boiling water 5 minutes and keep them in the water until ready to fill the jars.
8 cups (2 L) green tomatoes, washed and sliced about 1/4 inch (6mm)
3 cups (750 mL) sliced cooking onions
3 sweet red peppers, seeded and chopped
3 tbsp (45 mL) pickling salt
2 cups (500 mL) cider vinegar
2 cups (500 mL) granulated sugar
3 tbsp (45 mL) mustard seed
1 tsp (5 mL) turmeric
1/2 tsp (2 mL)    celery seed
In a large glass or stainless steel mixing bowl layer sliced tomatoes, onions and peppers. Sprinkle with salt. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day in a large saucepan or preserving kettle, bring vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, turmeric and celery seed to a boil; reduce heat and simmer five minutes. Meanwhile, drain the vegetables and rinse in cold water; drain well again. Add the vegetables to the vinegar mixture and cook stirring often to prevent burning, about 15 -20 minutes. Ladle into hot sterilized jars to within 1/2 inch (1 cm) of the top; wipe rim and apply lid tightly; process in a boiling water bath 10 minutes. With tongs remove jars to a rack to cool. Check to ensure each jar has a seal;  the lid should go down in the center. Date and label jars. If there is no seal (a vacuum has not formed, which means the lid bounces up and down instead of staying down in the center) refrigerate the jars and use up within two weeks. Those jars with a seal are shelf stable for at least one year.
Autumn Chutney
The kitchen smelled heavenly when this was simmering, usually in early autumn (thus the name). Again, it was excellent served with any cold meat as well as roast pork and chicken. Needless to say, I was known to eat spoonfuls of this creation at the counter too!
30-36 Italian type tomatoes, blanched, peeled, chopped and drained
6 peaches, blanched, peeled and chopped
6 pears, quartered, cored and chopped
6 apples, peeled, quartered, cored and chopped
6 onions, peeled and chopped
2 red peppers, halved, seeded and chopped
2 green peppers, halved, seeded and chopped
4 cups (1 L) cider vinegar
3 cups (750 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (125 mL) pickling spice (tied in a cheesecloth bag)
2 tbsp (25 mL) pickling salt
Blanching: cover the tomatoes and peaches in boiling water; let stand one minute. Remove and put into ice water. You should then be able to peel the tomatoes and peaches easily.
Coarsely chop tomatoes and drain thoroughly. Add peaches, pears, apples, onions and peppers. Combine all the vegetables and fruits with the cider vinegar, sugar, pickling spice and pickling salt in a large preserving kettle. Cover and let stand two hours. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer gently about two hours or until thickened stirring frequently to prevent scorching.
Meanwhile wash mason jars in hot sudsy water, rinse and sterilize in boiling water. Keep in hot water until ready to use. Boil Snap lids in a saucepan of boiling water five minutes (instructions are in package).
Ladle chutney into sterilized jars to within 1/2 inch (1 cm) of top; wipe rim and apply lids and tighten. Process in boiling water bath 10 minutes. Using tongs remove jars from pot and let cool on racks; check to make sure there is a seal. (See previous recipe for description of ‘seal’) Centre of lid should be down and should not pop up when touched with fingers. (This tells you a seal has been achieved and preserves are shelf stable for at least one year) If the lids bounce, there is no seal and the chutney should be refrigerated immediately and used within two weeks.


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