Green Tomato Chutney – Just Like Mother Used To Make

Image of Mrs Portly's mum

My mum – pickled all her life

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.

Image of child's drawing of a catSophisticated 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 preserved 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

  • Servings: Approx. 6-8lb
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Image of green tomatoes


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) preserved 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


Image of fruit in a food processor

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.

Image of spoon drawing a furrow through chutney

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.

Image of green tomato chutney


6 thoughts on “Green Tomato Chutney – Just Like Mother Used To Make

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  3. This will definitely be my go to green tomato chutney recipe in future. Tastes delicious and well worth the wait for the right consistency. Mums just pass down the best recipes!

  4. I made this two years ago, having an abundance of green tomatoes. Gave the jars as Christmas gifts to the neighbours….huge hit!! Coming back for a second round this season – as I have a lot of green tomatoes yet again. Thanks for this recipe. I’ll also be making my own ginger preserve to add to this in advance of cooking.

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