With the hive of activity in the garden this week there has also come a glut of some seemingly useless produce, green tomatoes and some very squishy figs. But those of you into a good pickle or jam will know just how coveted these items – especially the green tomatoes – are.
One of my tasks earlier in the week was to strip the garden of the summer vegies that had come to a finish or had at least stopped producing enough to warrant their place in the garden. Of these many were tomato plants still with green tomatoes on them. In total I gathered about a kilo and a half of green tomatoes, with a hand full of green cherry tomatoes thrown in too. This I turned into green tomato pickles (at least we have also called it pickles, technically it might be a relish as it is thickened with flour). The recipe originally came from my Grandmother on my father’s side. She died when I was about ten and I was not close to her at all. In fact she didn’t really seem particularly interested in any of her grandchildren. My older sister stayed with her once when she was perhaps four and after that she never asked to have any of us again – given that my sister was a pretty quiet, placid and very polite kind of kid I can’t imagine what could have put my Grandmother off so much. She was a somewhat difficult woman and rubbed my Mum up the wrong way very easily. Sadly I have few fond memories of her, but I do have this recipe.
The recipe actually calls for 5lbs (a bit of 2 kilos), so I adjusted the quantities to suit my smaller crop. I haven’t converted the measurements for you (my scales do both so I didn’t need to convert and also the conversion amounts are not nice round numbers like these ones). This time I used a malt vinegar which made the pickles quite dark. In the past I’ve used a cider vinegar or a pickling vinegar.
Green Tomato Pickles
5 lb. tomatoes
1 1/2 lb. sugar
2 lb. onions
1 oz. whole spice (in a bag)
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground cloves
2 pints vinegar
4 tablespoons plain flour
1 tablespoon mustard powder
1 dessertspoon turmeric
Chop tomatoes and onions, sprinkle with salt.
Drain, saving a cup of liquid to add to tomatoes.
Add other ingredients and cook for 1 hour.
Add thickening which has been mixed with a little of the cooking liquid.
Boil a further 3 minutes
Spoon into sterilised jars.
And while I was in the preserving mood I whipped up another batch of fig jam using the figs hanging over my fence from the neighbours tree. If they don’t get picked they end up dropping to the ground and rotting, leaving a very slippery path and a terrible fermenting kind of smell. The ones I picked this week were mostly on the squishy side, though a few were less ripe than that.
In the past I have tried the recipe from Stephanie Alexander’s cooks companion which is designed to eat with cheese, but I still have some of that left from last year. We use more of the sweet style of jam that you spread on toast so that’s what I was looking for. My first batch for this year was based on this recipe on the SBS food site. I used the same quantities of fruit and sugar and leave them overnight as described. However I cut all my fruit up into pieces before adding the sugar and standing overnight, rather than leaving the fruits whole. I also just cook up the whole lot as you would any other jam instead of removing the fruit and then returning it – though that sounds like it would be an interesting type of jam, I don’t have that much time to be stuffing around with it.
This week’s fig jam however was based on a microwave recipe for Spicy Fig and Orange Jam. I made quite a few changes though as I wanted it to still be a sweet jam. I used the same fruit and sugar quantities as the SBS food recipe, then added the zest of two oranges, as well as the fruit of two oranges cut up, plus the spices suggested in the recipe. I left out the butter. I must say the addition of the orange and the spices made this jam the nicest of the three fig jam recipes I’ve tried so far.
So now that I have a well stocked store cupboard I can really concentrate on getting my winter veg in and finish cleaning up the garden. Thankfully all the weeding has been done and it is starting to look much better, but there is still lots to clean up.