At the end of each summer, those of us who attempt every year to grow vegies in the Pacific Northwest are usually left with an abundance of green tomatoes. Our lettuces grow longer than anyone in the country before they give up from heat, our green beans are to die for and our kale is amazing, but our tomatoes are always a bet hedger. Anually my thrifty gardener’s soul seems to be left with green tomatoes.
Luckily, I have my grandmother’s green tomato relish recipe to fall back on. About the time we have either eaten or given away the last jar, its time to make a new batch. My Grandma Groves was from Indiana, a farmer’s wife, and man could she cook! Of course everything she cooked was fattening as hell–chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, pies from scratch, you name it. Besides the butterscotch pies she made for me especially, I loved her relishes best.
I was about 8 the first time I stood on a chair to reach the counter and helped her make watermelon pickles. They were so beautiful, pink, white and green, who knew watermelon could become a pickle? I still like the Green Tomato Relish best, she called it Piccallili and watched us pack it on top of everything but jello. Granma’s recipe calls for 5 cups of sugar, but I have cut it to 3 and it still works nicely.
Granny’s Green Tomato Piccalli
24 large green tomatoes-or the equivalent in smaller tomatoes
3 red bell peppers, halved and seeded
3 green bell peppers, halved and seeded
if you like heat, throw in a jalapeno or two, (just be careful when handling the seeds to not get them near your mouth or eyes)
12 yellow onions
2 tablespoons celery seed
3 tablespoons mustard seed
1 tablespoon salt
3-5 cups of sugar
2 cups cider vinegar
Your food processor makes this job easy–in batches, coarsely grind tomatoes, all the peppers and the onions. You don’t want soup, you want small chunks, think about how you like your relish to look.
Line a colander with cheesecloth, place in sink or in a large bowl, and pour in tomato mixture to drain for 1 hour. ( If you don’t have cheesecloth, an everyday clean tea towel works just fine.)
In a big (non aluminum) stockpot, combine the drained mixture, celery seed, mustard seed, salt, sugar, and vinegar. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
FOLLOW THE CANNING DIRECTIONS THAT CAME WITH YOUR JARS! Sterilize enough lids for your batch of relish. This recipe makes 12 one-pint jars, or 6 one-quart jars. Put relish into your freshly washed and clean jars, use a spatula to make sure there are no spaces or air pocket in your jars. Fill jars all the way to top. Wipe the edge of each jar with a clean wet to make sure there is nothing that will be sitting on the rim. Put on the lids and the rings.
In the old days, everyone sterilized their jars, but the school of thought generally followed now is that a 30 minute boil will kill what’s on the glass and in the relish. Personally, I wash my jars thoroughly and rinse them out and air dry them and then fill the clean jars without sterilizing first.
If you have a canning kettle, you can use that rather handily. If you don’t, place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with water. Bring it to a boil and carefully lower jars into pot using tongs. Leave a 2 inch space between jars. Pour in more boiling water if necessary to make sure the tops of the jars are covered by 2 inches of water.
Bring water to a full boil, then cover and process (this means boil) for 30 minutes. Make sure the water stays over the top of the jars by two inches.
When your 30-35 minutes is up, get your tongs and carefully remove the jars from the hot pot. Put them on a wood or cloth covered surface several inches apart to cool. Once cool, press top of each lid with finger, ensuring that seal is tight (lid does not move up or down at all). Generally you’ll hear the lids make a funny popping sound as the vacuum seal kicks in when they cool.
Relish will keep nicely for a year in a cool location and makes a great gift. Try it with Triscuits topped with cream cheese and a dollop of relish, yummy.
http://www.tomatocasual.com/category/tips/ And here is a killer web location for all things tomato too!