There’s something about the very word “chutney” that I’ve always thought exotic. I suppose that’s because it was something foreign to me as a child. We had Welch’s grape jelly (in Flintstone glasses or maybe Tom and Jerry) or we had pickle relish. Chutney kind of mixes those together.
I do vaguely recall Christmas gift packages my parents would receive, filled with cheese, meat, crackers and a jar of something with “MajorGrey” emblazoned on it. Since then I’ve seen jars of all kinds of chutney, including the Major, in gourmet food shops. But still I kept my distance. It was unfamiliar.
So why make chutney? Why now?
- I’ll eat anything. (Just ask Mr. Rosemary.)
- I love to experiment. (Ditto.)
- I had a whole bunch of green tomatoes still sitting on the vine. With a heavy frost sure to hit any day now, I needed to do something.
Enter Martha. I often turn to one of my big bible-type cookbooks when I have a need to make an indefinable something with a particular something. I found this Green Tomato Chutney recipe in the huge The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook, The Original Classics. That’s the orange one. I have the blue one, too; that’s the New Classics version. And I do consult them often.
So I had all the ingredients, I knew the chutney would keep a long time and I had visions of, not sugarplums, but pretty jars of my homemade chutney as charming Christmas gifts.
This particular recipe was pretty time-consuming, though. And I found that paring green tomatoes is a whole lot harder than with ripe tomatoes.
My verdict? It’s pretty good. And I didn't waste the tomatoes. I’ve been eating it on my morning toast, on top of a smear of mascarpone cheese. My neighbor Dick stopped by soon after I finished making the chutney and I made him taste it. He’s a great guinea pig. He just took the cracker I offered without even asking what it was and immediately declared, “Tastes like mincemeat.” A spot on description.
Chutneys are just a condiment, and as varied as any salsa or relish. Usually, it’s a sweet-sour mix of fruit and vegetable combinations with vinegar and sugar, cooked well down. Next time, I’d use apple instead of raisins. (Mr. Rosemary's comment: "I relish relish; I don't 'chutney' chutney.")
But my visions of Christmas presents of chutney? Sorry, but not gonna happen.
from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook, The Original Classics
1 large bunch fresh mint, roughly chopped
4 pounds green tomatoes
2 yellow onion (1 pound), finely diced
1 ½ cup white vinegar
1 ½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup golden raisins
1. Cover and bring a large stock pot of water to a boil. Tie mint in a piece of cheesecloth. Set aside. Prepare an ice water bath. Set aside
2. Using a paring knife, remove the core and score the end of each tomato with a shallow “x”. Blanch the tomatoes in the boiling water for 30 seconds. With a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to the ice bath. Using a paring knife, peel off the skin and discard. Cut the tomatoes into ¾ inch chunks and set aside.
3. Combine the onions, vinegar, mint bundle, sugar, salt, raisins and 1 cup water in a low-sided 6-quart saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
4. Add the tomatoes and reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently until the tomatoes are tender, about 1 hour.
5. Increase the heat to high and continue cooking stirring frequently until almost all the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and discard the mint bundle.
6. Transfer the chutney immediately to a large bowl over the ice bath to chill. Chutney can be stored, refrigerated in an airtight container up to 4 weeks.
Makes 6 half-pint jars.