Here’s a little gardening scenario for you: it’s nearing the end of tomato growing season and the first frost date is rapidly approaching.
If you are still in good time, Elizabeth has 10 tricks to ripen your green tomatoes that you might want to try if you want to use up fully ripe tomatoes.
However, if you missed that window of preparing tomatoes for harvest and the frost comes all of a sudden, your only choice is to harvest now. Green or gone.
For when nighttime temperatures dip below zero, your tomatoes won’t ever be the same.
Freezing tomatoes is only good if you’ve already harvested and prepared them for the freezer. If they are left out in nature, their health depends on the length and amount of the cold.
What If I Still Have Green Tomatoes In the Garden?
If tomatoes become frozen on the vine, your best course of action is to toss them on the compost pile. They won’t be much good for eating.
Fried green tomatoes is the number one way to gobble them up.
Quick pickled green tomatoes is our absolute favorite way to fill up the last jars in the pantry.
And if you still aren’t convinced that your green tomatoes are worth saving, we’ve compiled a list of 21 delicious green tomato recipes just for you. Of course, today, we are adding green tomato relish to the list.
Thirdly, if you have been thinking and planning ahead, you’re probably already aware of all the ways to extend the gardening season.
Harvesting Green Tomatoes
It’s not just frost that might make you bring in your tomatoes before they are fully ripe. Tomato diseases often take hold when temperatures are just right – for rain and overly humid weather.
Sometimes the fruit simply doesn’t get a chance to come to maturation.
So, if you have green tomatoes on the vine that are large, nearly full grown, but showing no signs of aging (blushing or turning red) go ahead and pluck them from healthy vines. Always choose the healthy ones that are free of disease with a nice weight to them.
Very immature tomatoes will rarely taste good, no matter how you prepare them. Feed them to the compost, the pigs or any other creature that might enjoy them.
Making Green Tomato Relish
Without further ado, let’s get to the relish bit.
Harvest your green tomatoes, or buy them for next to nothing from the market and get to work.
You’ll notice that we chopped everything by hand, it’s one small way to keep our carbon footprint down. In terms of electricity, we use about 10 kWh a month. This is far lower than the average kWh per month.
Plus, we aren’t in a rush. Though we know many people live busier lives. So, one way to make this process faster, is by utilizing a food processor to do the work for you. It’s less hands-on, but convenient. Always choose the tools that work best for you.
Green Tomato Relish Ingredients
There are several green tomato relish recipes floating out there in the ether, some are tastier than others.
Use what you have on hand
No green peppers? Great, then use red. No red peppers? Use green instead.
Color doesn’t matter. Flavor does. Use quality ingredients and don’t worry about what the end product looks like. The flavor, love and intention will be all there.
- approximately 7 pounds of green tomatoes (any variety will do)
- 5-6 onions (yellow, red, whatever you have on hand or ready to harvest from the garden)
- 5-6 medium peppers, with stem, seeds and core removed
- 5 cups apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups water, optional
- 1-2 cups sugar
- 4 tsp. salt
- 5 tsp. mustard seed
- hot pepper flakes, to taste
As far as spices go, again, it’s your choice when you are canning from the garden. You can toss in a fair amount of celery seed or cumin powder. Add a dash of cayenne or garlic powder.
One of the greatest things about preserving your own food, is that you get to make it your own, even down to how it is sliced and diced. A blend of spices will always make a jar of anything more interesting. Even if all ingredients come from the market, it is you who gets to decide what goes in it, so let’s get this delish relish in jars.
Green Tomato Relish: Step-by-Step Instructions
Step 1: Wash and Chop All Ingredients
Give all tomatoes and peppers a proper wash in cold water before getting down to the business of chopping.
There is no need to remove the skins or the seeds from green tomatoes. Simply chop, chop, chop as finely as you want your relish to be, or take advantage of machine power and dice them in an instant.
In other words: chop your green tomatoes, onions, peppers into small pieces that are relish-friendly.
If you use a food processor, it is wise to chop each set of ingredients separately. This ensures a more even blend. After all, you might want your onion bits to be smaller than the green tomatoes.
Step 2: Let It Sit – And Wait
Commonly, most recipes allow all chopped ingredients to sit in a bowl with canning salt.
Divide the fruit-vegetable mass into two strainers and let the juices drain in an even deeper bowl.
Let them drain for a few hours, then discard the salty liquid that comes out.
Or, you can choose the lazy way and skip this step. Instead, add all ingredients to a large pot for immediate cooking.
We’ve tried it both ways, with no noticeable difference. However, if you want a relish with traditions, go ahead and give your green tomato mixture plenty of time to sit before cooking and canning.
Step 3: Heat It Up
Now, that your tomatoes, onions and peppers are ready, it is time to toss in all other ingredients and give it a good stir: spices, apple cider vinegar and sugar.
Depending on how green your tomatoes are, you may need to add a bit of water. This ensures that the mass has enough moisture. You don’t want your relish to be overly wet or dry.
1 or 2 cups of water has always worked well for us. Much of this will simmer off as the relish is cooking.
Place your full cooking pot on the stove and bring the mixture to a boil.
Reduce heat to a gentle simmer, stirring often for 35-40 minutes.
The relish is “done” when it has thickened to an enjoyable consistency.
Step 4: Put Relish In Jars
Alternatively, you can opt out now and skip this step if you’ve only made a small amount of green tomato relish for fresh eating. Remember, you can always reduce this recipe to suit your needs – or your not-so-grand harvest.
However, rather than double it for an enormous batch, simply make it twice. That way you can add different spices and try out unique flavor combinations. It also makes canning easier and more precise.
Canning Green Tomato Relish
As you put your relish to simmer on the stove, also fire up (prepare) your water bath canner.
In the meantime, sterilize your lids and jars until they are ready to be filled.
When your relish is done simmering, ladle the hot mass into pint size jars (or whatever size you have on hand). Make sure there are no spaces or air pockets in the relish. And be sure to leave 1/2″ headspace.
Carefully place full jars in the water bath canner, so that the lids are covered with water.
Process for 15 minutes.
Remove jars and place them on a kitchen cloth, leaving them to sit until they are completely cool.
Label the jars and make space for them in your pantry/cupboards.
Green tomato relish can be stored for up to a year.
Uses for Green Tomato Relish
Obviously, you are going to add a generous dollop of relish to your hot dogs, sausages and hamburgers. That’s the very traditional way to eat it.
You can also add green tomato relish to tomato salads, potato salads and salad dressings.
It also tastes fantastic on sandwiches, on toast and eggs, or stirred into a hummus dip.
You can make a lovely appetizer and serve it with crackers and cream cheese. Serve it straight up, alongside pork chops or baked chicken.
Or, simply take a spoonful straight from the jar.
However you choose to eat it, dive right in, knowing that the flavor of every season is slightly different. Appreciate that moment now.