Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Happy Dilemma

Every year, come the end of summer, I'm swimming in tomatoes. This year I'm literally drowning. I planted about 9 starts and all of them have been producing beautifully. I've been harvesting the Sungold cherry tomatoes since about mid-July. The yellow pears were ready a couple of weeks after that. In the last 3 weeks, I've been getting a steady supply of the larger tomatoes. To put it all into perspective, during the peak I harvested over 6 pounds of the various cherry tomatoes and 8 lbs of the larger varieties...in one day. No kidding. Thank goodness it appears to be tapering off.

Thanks again to my awesome FIL, who built me another planter box, effectively doubling my garden to a whopping 36 sqft. Who says you need a lot of space to have a productive garden?

I'm sure I'll be jonesing for a decent tomato in February, but right now if I have to eat one more fresh tomato, I might die. Okay, not really. Rather than let all the tomatoes sit and rot on my countertop (yes, I tried to give some away, but my neighbors are in the same boat), I canned a big batch of tomato chutney. Actually this was the second batch. The first batch went straight into the freezer because I couldn't be bothered to bust out the canning paraphernalia.

Making a tomato chutney isn't hard, but it does require some babysitting. I simply took my 6+ pounds of cherry tomatoes and put them in a pot with 1 cup rice vinegar (regular white vinegar is also fine), 1 cup granulated sugar and salt to taste (optional if you're watching your salt intake). Then I just let it all reduce over medium heat. This took a long time...like 2 hours because the tomatoes have so much liquid that has to be cooked off. I stirred it occasionally at first then frequently toward the end to prevent it from sticking to the bottom. The 6+ pounds of tomatoes gave me 4+ cups of chutney, which I canned in 8 x 125ml jars (processed for 15 minutes using boiling water canner).

A couple of tips: As it's cooking down, taste it and add more sugar if you find it's not sweet enough. I always end up doing this. You can also add spices. I added copious fresh ginger to the first batch and it was fantastic, tangy and slightly spicy.

Chutneys aren't just meant to accompany Indian food. There are limitless ways to enjoy this one. My favorite is atop a nice sharp cheese with crusty bread. Or served with a grilled cheese sandwich. Or how about on a bacon and lettuce sandwich for an nontraditional but delicious BLT. I also like it mixed in with hummus and eaten with pita chips. You may also try adding fresh herbs, such as finely chopped mint, coriander and/or chilies before serving. Of course chutneys are good accompaniments to meat dishes and this one is good for everything from a roasted chicken to roasted lamb.

This is my entry for Weekend Wokking. This round we're celebrating vinegar and I'm the host! If you want to participate, send your entry to me at blazinghotwok(at)gmail(dot)com by Oct 4th.


Ravenous Couple said...

the color of that chutney looks wonderfully intense

dp said...

Ravenous couple, I started with orange and yellow cherry tomatoes and the cooking concentrates the flavors and the colors. I agree it is a wonderful color.

pam said...

I've never had a tomato chutney, but I've always been curious.

QGIRL said...

wow, the chutney looks tasty. And you had so many tomatoes! Congrats on a good harvest!

I was disappointed with my tomato plants, but kept watering and feeding them. They are finally producing some fruit. We haven't had a very hot summer, too much rain, perhaps that was the problem. It was my first try at growing anything edible. I will definitely try again next year. (my herbs where very successful though!)

P.s. didn't you post a tomato jam recipe once? I wanted to try it but never got around to it.

dp said...

Pam, it's no harder than making a cooked jam and it's great with savory dishes.

qgirl, I imagine you have a short growing season like we do. Tomatoes need a lot of warmth and sunshine. You may try using Wall-o-water. It will allow you to put the starts in the ground in May (maybe even late April if the plants are well hardened off) and you can keep them in it until the weather really warms up toward the end of June. It also protects the plants from cold by acting like a mini greenhouse. If they don't get those optimal conditions in the beginning, their growth is stunted and they never catch up. Hopefully I can remember to post about this before the start of next growing season.

Yes, I did a sun-dried tomato jam supplemented with canned tomatoes. It's good for the colder months when decent fresh tomatoes aren't available. The post is here. This chutney has more of a taste of summer because you start out with fresh tomatoes.

Joanne said...

I love fresh tomatoes and actually feel like I haven't had enough of them this summer. Maybe I need to stop by your place to get my fix ;).

This chutney looks delicious! It does seem like it would have many good uses.

abby said...

I will take your tomatoes. if you have any more to get rid of, email me and I'll come get them.

seriously. love. tomatoes.

and my little one loves the cherry toms. any color.

btw, great idea with the chutney.

dp said...

Abby, I'm emailing you now.

Jason said...

I love the intense flavor of chutneys, and this looks quite yummy! I think I will have to sneak over to my friends garden and steal some tomatoes!

Anonymous said...

I wish I was there to eat the tomatoes. I love them,especially the sweet ones.

Mary Bergfeld said...

I think I like your version better than my own, but don't let this go to your head :-). Have a great day.