When we decided to move (much, much) closer to my parents, I expected the free babysitting to be a big perk and it definitely is.
But a little more than a year later, I’ve learned there are other benefits too, like being the lucky beneficiary of 15+ pounds of tomatoes my mom picked up on whim from a roadside stand.
Fifteen pounds is a lot of tomatoes, even for someone like me, who considers the archetypal tomato sandwich one of summer’s greatest pleasures and whose toddler pounds cherry tomatoes like candy.
I needed a plan to get through the entire box, because you can better believe I was not going to let any go to waste. I turned some into sauce, slow roasted others, put up two batches of spicy tomato jam and several jars of a tangy tomato chutney.
I often like to cook without a recipe, using my tastebuds and imagination as guides. This time, however, I wanted to make a chutney that I could process in a boiling water canner and store unrefrigerated. That requires a careful balance of ingredients.
Apparently, a lot of old fashioned recipes for canning tomatoes aren’t really safe to use these days, because tomatoes aren’t as acidic as they once were. The lower the acid, the greater the risk of botulism.
So instead of flipping through old family recipes, I used one from the always-reliable Marisa McClellan as my starting point. I couldn’t resist a few changes, but she assured me in an email that the chutney is still safe to store.
I like this as a sandwich spread (especially where cheddar is involved) but I also think it would be good slathered on roasted eggplant or zucchini, as a zingy accompaniment to Indian foods, or just about anywhere you would normally use ketchup.
This chutney hums with vinegar and warm spices but is still pretty mild, despite the addition of a teaspoon of a fiery chili powder from India. Chili powders can vary a lot so, unless you want a lot of heat, start with a little and work up from there.
- 5 pounds tomatoes, finely diced
- 2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
In a large pot, combine all of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until the chutney has reduced to a thick, jammy consistency. This took me about 2 hours, but will likely vary depending on the type of tomatoes and the size of your pot.
When the chutney almost reaches the desired consistency (it will set up just a little more as it cools), remove from heat and pour into clean glass jars, leaving half an inch of headspace.
Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.