My mum got this recipe from an old wartime cookery pamphlet and made it all her married life.
I still have the tattered booklet, spotted with age and ingredients and annotated with my mother’s alterations to the original recipe.
Inside the back cover are my childish drawings of a mouse (or possibly a horse), what might conceivably be a bird and this cat.
Sophisticated artwork aside, mum’s recipe is a great way of using up green tomatoes, especially if they’re starting to get the blight as ours are and you need to pick them in a hurry. It’s a curious recipe for one that first saw the light of day during World War Two. Although you could get extra rations for preserving garden produce, not only were sugar and dried fruit in short supply, I can’t imagine where a cook would have sourced crystallised ginger.
But the results are excellent. I’ve tried numerous other chutney recipes and I’ve concocted my own but I always come back to this one. Spicy, piquant and not too sweet, it’s just as good in a cheese sarnie as with cold cuts.
Green Tomato Chutney
4 lb (1.8 kilos) green tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 lb (450g) cooking apples, cored but not peeled, chunked
1 1/2 lb (680g) onions, peeled and chunked
1/2 lb (225g) raisins
Up to 1/2 lb (225g) crystallised ginger (the kind that comes in syrup in a jar)
2 oz (56g) salt
1 level tsp cayenne pepper
1 lb (450g) brown sugar
1 pint (568 ml) malt vinegar
1/2 oz (14g) pickling spice, in a spice bag
Mince or finely chop the tomatoes, onions, and apples but don’t turn them into a slurry. I put them into a food processor with the raisins and ginger.
Gently boil all ingredients except for the vinegar and sugar for 1 1/2 hours.
In another pan, dissolve the sugar in the vinegar. Add to the fruit mixture and boil gently until it thickens. The recipe says 20 minutes but in my experience it takes considerably longer.
I cook it until I can mark a furrow in the chutney with a wooden spoon and can see the bottom of the pan when I drag the spoon through the mixture.
Be careful, it catches easily at this point and it spits! Pack into sterilised jars, seal, and allow to mature for at least three months. Make it now and it’ll be ready for Christmas.