I’m sure many people will relate to the glut of tomatoes home vegie gardeners experience over the warmer months and the many methods people adopt to use these up. While my vegetable garden is only quite small and I limited my tomato plants to just two – one Roma and one cherry tomato – I still managed to have periods of excess. This year in particular my plants were laden with fruit, to the point where I had enough Romas to make a big pot of Passata and enough cherry tomatoes to make some relish. I was most impressed with myself. As well I cut up the last harvest and froze for later use as I had seen my mother do.
This is nothing compared to the mountains of tomatoes that I remember my parents harvesting from the multiple tomato plants my father insisted on planting every year. The best part about this excess was my Mum’s home-made Green Tomato Pickles, yum! This condiment was a popular accompaniment to the “cold meat and salad” dinners that would inevitably appear the night after a roast during Summer. While this meal sounds a little less than inspiring I always enjoyed it, mostly because of Mum’s pickles.
Where am I going with this? Well over the weekend I decided it was time to pull up my two intentionally planted tomato plants, plus the two that grew wild around the garden thanks to a dog that enjoys eating the fruit straight off the bushes. These two wild plants came up quite late in the season and while both were loaded with fruit the lack of warm, sunny weather meant the fruit didn’t ripen – hence a bowl full of green tomatoes and Green Tomato Pickles.
Unfortunately, my Mum was away from home so I couldn’t get her exact recipe. Instead I did the very modern thing of googling for a recipe. Now I do have one in “Cookery in Colour” but the thought of having to recalculate all the measurements from imperial to metric was too much for my brain today, especially as I was limited timewise as I tried to get everything finished before my daughter woke from her midday sleep (only 1 hour).
While in my opening I did mention that I had made a relish earlier in the season, this only amounted to one jar and didn’t require any jar sterilisation or the like. So for all intents and purposes, this was my first real attempt at preserving. From a huge pot of tomatoes, apples, onions, spices, vinegar and sugar I filled five jars with a thick, syrupy pickle. Now I had never sterilised jars before and with a lack of time to research, I decided to do another very 21st Century thing – consult my sister via online messenger, perfect! And in the end it was pretty easy – the hardest part was distracting my daughter long enough for me to fill the jars, and of course the clean up, but my lovely husband did most of this for me, after which he cooked me crepes with lemon and sugar (another relic from my childhood).
The finished product tasted good, but definitely was not the same colour as Mum’s, perhaps because I used malt vinegar. And for those wondering – no I didn’t get finished before I heard “Muuuuum, Muuuuuum, Muuuuum” emanating from down the hall, “Bugger!!!”