Thanks to all who sent their condolences during the past week. My family reads this blog and I know that they were as touched by your thoughtfulness as was I.
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This has been quite a month and I hope you’ll understand if I’ve not been as frequent a visitor or commenter on your blogs as I have been in the past.
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This was the first year that I tried my hand at making green tomato relish. The sad fact is that, for the last few years, my tomato harvest has been anything but bountiful. From blight, to cracked containers, to damaging winds, it seemed The Fates had conspired against me. Add the daily, early morning raid by my nemesis, Squirrel, and I was lucky to get one pot of sauce in all of August, though I did manage to prepare a few BLTs. Things got so bad last year that I tossed both plants and containers into the trash in mid-August. (Take that, Squirrel!)
Determined to return to the good old days, when I was rewarded with quarts of tomato sauce, last Winter I bought new planters. When, in the Spring, my seedlings looked pathetic, I bought heirloom plants from the farmers market, some of which were the same as my under-achieving seedlings. And then I waited patiently. Lo and behold, I was richly rewarded. My Brandywine supplied me the “T” for all Summer’s BLTs. My cherry tomato, Mexican Midget, insured my salads never went tomato-less and still yielded enough for me to make tomato jam. Finally, my plum tomatoes, San Marzano, kept me awash in tomato sauce. Grandpa would have been proud.
As October drew to a close, I went out and picked the San Marzano plants clean of green tomatoes. The other vines had all but given out at that point. Setting aside some to ripen on a window sill, I chopped the rest, rendering about 1 of the 2 quarts needed for the relish. I then bought 4 large green tomatoes at the farmers market. 3 were needed for the relish and the 4th, destined for BLTs, joined the others on the window sill.
Searching the web for a recipe wasn’t as easy as I had thought. Most that I ran across required a number of large tomatoes without giving an associated weight or volume. As you can see in the photo, my tomatoes were varied in size and I had no idea how many would equal, say, “24 large green tomatoes”. The recipe I finally chose gave the ingredients in quarts required — equivalent metric units were, also, provided — and could be adjusted to suit the volume of tomatoes on-hand. It wasn’t long before my relish was underway.
Not having much experience with green tomato relish, I cannot say how this compares with other recipes. I do know that the night following “relish day”, my kitchen smelled like a condiment station at Wrigley Field. Needless to say, this relish is the perfect accompaniment for a hot dog or even the “best of your wurst.”
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Today, Wednesday, the Jewish Faith celebrates the start of Hanukkah, while tomorrow we in the States celebrate Thanksgiving. Whether you celebrate the holidays, I hope your day is a good one. Have a Wonderful Hanukkah & Happy Thanksgiving!
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Green Tomato Relish Recipe
yield: 5 to 6 pints
- 2 quarts chopped green tomatoes (see Notes)
- 2 large onions, chopped (next time I’ll use one)
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 1 red pepper, chopped (I used red for color; green may be substituted)
- 2 jalapeños, chopped
- 4 tbsp canning/pickling salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 tbsp prepared mustard (yellow mustard seed may be substituted)
- 2 tsp celery seed (if celery salt is used, do not add additional kosher salt)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 8 whole cloves wrapped in cheesecloth
- 2 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
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- Place tomatoes, onions, peppers, and jalapeños a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Stir to mix and set aside for 1 hour. After the hour has passed, drain the liquid before placing the mixture into a large, heavy-bottomed pot.
- Add the sugar, mustard, celery seed, cloves, and vinegar to the pot and stir to combine. Heat the mixture over med-high heat until it boils. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Place relish into sterile jars and fill to 1/4 inch of top and cover. Cover and relish is ready as-is. Once cool, store in the fridge where it will keep for 2 weeks.
- For canning instructions, see Notes.
Inspired by a recipe on Food.com
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It took about 6 large tomatoes to make 2 quarts chopped. Sizes vary and you may need more or less tomato to fill 2 quarts.
Even though you can store this relish in the fridge, 5 or 6 pints is an awful lot of relish to use within 2 weeks. I prefer to can the relish, giving me a supply that will keep for up to one year. To can:
- This should be done while relish and jars are still hot.
- Bring a large kettle of water to the boil over high heat. Place a rack or towel in the bottom of the pot so that no jar will come in contact with the bottom of the pot.
- Seal each jar a little less than fully tightened.
- Place jars in the boiling water. Do not allow them to touch each other and the water should cover the tallest jar by at least 1 inch (2.5 cm).
- When the water returns to the boil, process the jars for 10 minutes.
- Remove the jars to a cloth-covered counter or baking sheet, away from any drafts. (The cloth will prevent the jars from shattering should they come in contact with a cold surface.) Do not move for at least 12 hours, though 24 hours is best.
- Relish stored in a cool, dark place should keep for about a year.
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Forget Moose. Must get Squirrel!
One day last Summer, after listening to me yet again bemoan Squirrel’s daily raids on my tomato plants, my friend Cynthia mentioned that she’d heard that squirrels steal tomatoes for the moisture they provide. The squirrels will take a bite and a drink from each one that they pilfer. If you want to reduce the thievery, the theory goes, leave a dish of water for them to drink. I didn’t experiment with this because I had stumbled upon my own way of dealing with Squirrel — and a shot-gun wasn’t even involved. Every day or so, I walk around my plants’ containers, picking up tomatoes that have fallen due to the wind, Squirrel, or a passing Max. (He has a yard to patrol yet insists on circling each container.) One afternoon, while on my way out, I gathered up the tomatoes on the ground, placing them on a table on the deck — and promptly forgot all about them. The next morning, much to my surprise, a couple of the tabled tomatoes were stolen by Squirrel but those on the vine were left alone. From that day on, like my Roman ancestors of long ago, I paid a tribute of fallen tomatoes to my enemy, a four-legged barbarian, and my wealth, my tomato harvest, was spared. Only time will tell whether this arrangement will work next season.
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It’s déjà vu all over again …
Fall is typically when a Bartolini’s thoughts turn to sausage making. The cooler temperatures make it far less likely to run into the spoilage problems that you might encounter in Summer’s heat. Not only that but years ago my family hung the freshly made sausage in their screened, back porches to dry/cure in the chilled air. Once cured, the sausages were sliced and eaten like salami. Well, despite all that — and the photo, for that matter — I no longer make sausages, preferring to make patties instead. No matter your preference, you can learn how to make sausage like a Bartolini by clicking HERE.
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Coming soon to a monitor near you …
Quince: The end of the year’s canning
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