Green Tomato Chutney – The End of the Growing Season {or maybe not}


The first snow of the season brought with it change to the garden. We cut down the tomato plants and harvested all of the tomatoes that the squirrels and the hornworms have left behind; harvested the genovese and purple basils to make one last batch of pesto; and built a hoop-house on the garden bed that gets the most sun during the fall and winter, to continue cultivating salad greens, peas, carrots and beets. 


This was a great garden year. Since April, when we began harvesting the first baby arugula and lettuce leaves, followed by a hefty harvest of shelling peas, and a few handfuls of chives and tarragon. The first few harvests of the early season excited me to continue sowing seeds and eventually planting warm weather crops, like tomatoes, beans, and squashes. The flowers shone with multicolored petals dazzling the bees and butterflies, creating a beautiful nature dance through the backyard. We cultivated and harvested potatoes for the first time; had a successful carrot crop that is still going; rejoiced in abundance of greens through the entire season; and grew the biggest tomato plants we have ever seen. 

This was an abundant year. Enough for us, the bunnies, the squirrels, the hornworms, and enough to preserve for the winter months. We froze peas, golden beans {a yellow version of green beans}; canned tomato sauce, pesto, salsa verde, pickled beets and carrots, and green tomato chutney, utilizing produce grown in our backyard. Walking to the garden and harvesting vegetables, herbs, or greens for dinner is a new found pleasure that we wanted to extend through the winter when we have few local fresh ingredients here in Colorado, so Scott built a hoop house over the bed that currently hosts an array of greens, like mizuna, arugula, red leave lettuce, chard, and peas; and where I sowed more carrots, beets, radishes seeds, and some more greens to replace the current plants once their crop turns too bitter. 


On Monday, I put my boots on, a winter jacket, hat and gloves, and walked to the hoop house dusted the snow off of it and harvested salad greens for dinner. I loved it. Even with freezing cold fingers, or perhaps because of the odds of being out in the snow harvesting greens for salad, I found the experience energizing, the idea that life continues even through the devastating effects of a hard freeze on a snowy day. The power we have to protect or destroy nature, and how responsive nature can be to a caring hand.


Before the snow, on Sunday, we thanked the garden for its hard work. We walked around the playful butterflies as they hopped from blossom to blossom, and the chickadees eating the seeds of the sunflowers I’d cut and placed on the dining room table, a trick I learned from a dear British friend who used to live next door to our former house years ago, before I ever knew what it was to care for a garden. 


One of the crops that exceeded expectations this year was the tomatoes. We had five plants, from cherokee red to cherry, each plant grew twice as big as any other tomato plant we’ve ever had, and the cherry tomato grow more than 8-feet tall and sprawled over the other tomato plants making it difficult to harvest and to spot the hornworms eating the fruit and leaves. Every other week Scott would built an addition to the initial frame we had to keep the plant upright, extending height and width, to accommodate the ever-growing plant. To the last day the crazy plant kept flowering from the countless hidden suckers it grew. By the end of their lives, the tomato plants had a gallon-size bowl of green tomatoes still hanging on the vines. 


To honor their hard work and resilience to the odds of many creatures taking their fruit, I looked for a suitable recipe to use the green tomatoes, and to my luck I found this Green Tomato Chutney recipe in Preserving Everything, by Leda Meredith. I like Leda’s simple recipes and careful explanations on the art of preserving food, as I grow more accustomed to the idea of using the heavy harvest of summer and fall to prepare for the winter and spring seasons.



Green Tomato Chutney
From Preserving Everything, by Leda Meredith 
Yield 3 pints 

Chopping the tomatoes by hand took a little longer than expected, afterward I thought I should have used the food processor, so I leave it up to you to use your hands or the processor’s blade. I substituted some of the ingredients, and I make note of that on the recipe below, like the chile peppers, and the allspice – which oddly enough I’ve never purchased, instead I had garam masala spice that I use to season meats and some bean or lentil dishes together with Madras curry. The same can be done with coriander seeds or powder, substitute it for other spices in the cabinet. Although, I recommend giving coriander powder a try, its lovely citrusy, sweet smell and taste goes well with many dishes, from meats to vegetables.

This recipe yields 17- 4oz jars, or about 9- 8oz jars. I prefer the small jars because I don’t have to hurry to use chutney on everything before it deteriorates, since there’s only two of us at any given time here at home. Plus the chutney is strong and a little goes a long way. 


I use this chutney on anything from chicken, pork, lamb, to vegetarian dishes like chili, tacos, or any other legume dish. 

6 cups finely chopped green tomatoes
1 large, tart apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
2 cups light brown sugar
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups raisins {I used dried cherries I had in my pantry}
1 organic lemon, sliced into thin slivers (include peels, discard seeds)
1/4 cup peeled and minced fresh gingerroot
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1-2 chile peppers, minced {I didn’t use chile peppers as it’s not an item I usually use, instead I used 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes}
1/2 teaspoon salt {I used kosher salt}
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice {I used garam masala spice since I didn’t have allspice on hand, and didn’t want to buy a jar just for this recipe}
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander seeds 
Pinch of ground cloves

  • Put all of the ingredients in a large, non-reactive, pot over medium-high heat
  • Boil, stirring often, until the green tomatoes and the apple are very soft, the chutney is thick enough when a wooden spoon dragged across the pot bottom leaves a trail that doesn’t fill within a few seconds
  • Can in pint or half-pint jars in boiling water – * boiling time varies based on location.

~ Paula 



3 thoughts on “Green Tomato Chutney – The End of the Growing Season {or maybe not}”

    1. Yes! we have the pics and also, due to a return to summer, this week we have temps in the 80s and the herb garden together with the greens and root vegetables are doing great 🙂

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