Green Tomato Joy
We haven't had a great year for tomatoes. A late frost killed a huge batch of seedlings and the remaining variety wasn't well suited for our climate. A friend gave me some replacements, which have grown well, but have been sitting with green fruit for weeks, making me suspect that their placement in the middle of the tunnel, with cucumber vines on both outer rows has prevented them from ripening.
And as much as I would love to be hauling pound after pound of juicy, ripe tomatoes out of my tunnel, I am OK with being left with green ones. In fact, green tomatoes are actually my favourite autumn harvest, so much so that I head to our wholesale market every September to beg for kilos and kilos of them.
Our main use for unripe tomatoes is green tomato salsa. Every year I aim to put up at least 30 jars of it for our weekly Mexican night to carry us through until red tomatoes are in season. It is never enough. Because its also the perfect addition to breakfast burritos and quick lunch nachos and on its own straight from the jar.
This recipe is more of a guide. I’ve used it as an excuse to share my absolute favourite way to use tomatoes, but the truth is, you could change the tomatoes to red and make a red tomato salsa (you may want to peel them and just finely chop) or change the spices for an Italian tomato sauce.
I know that we traditionally think of tomatoes as acidic foods, but the truth is that they have been bred to be less acidic over time. To safely can foods, you need to make sure the acidity level is high, so don't omit the lime juice here.
About 12 medium green tomatoes, roughly chopped (about 700g)
5 to 10 fresh jalapeno, habanero or Scotch bonnet peppers seeded and finely chopped or a jar of canned jalepenos (UK jalapenos , especially the canned ones, aren't very hot, but do adjust for your preferences)
2 large red onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup loosely packed finely chopped cilantro
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano (or espazote if you can get your hands on it)
1 tsp salt
Combine tomatoes, peppers, onion, garlic and lime juice in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir in cilantro, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. I like to blend mine roughly with an immersion blender or food processor because I hate skinning green tomatoes!
Ladle hot salsa into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles by tapping the jars on the counter. Wipe rim with a clean cloth. Centre hot lid on jar and tighten
Process filled jars using the water bath canning method for 20 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when centre is pressed.
If you need more ideas for your green tomatoes, check out our Green Tomato pinterest board!
We cover waterbath canning in our Intro to Canning course, if you need any help with understanding this handy method of putting up fruit and veg for the year.