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Making the Most of Green Tomatoes

Posted By Suzanne McMinn On October 14, 2010 @ 1:05 am In Home Canning,Pies & Pastries,The Farmhouse Table | 18 Comments

Night-time temperatures here have been hovering in the 40s, with a possible dip into the 30s this weekend. As the chance of frost grows ever nearer, I’m eyeing those green tomatoes out there and making lists of things to do with them. I got too few tomatoes this year to waste a one, even if it is green, and as much as I love fried green tomatoes, I need a little more excitement.

Some of the best green tomatoes are worth wrapping in newspaper and putting in the basement. They’ll ripen slowly and make for fresh garden tomatoes at Thanksgiving, but I’m really in the mood for something different, something special to honor these late ‘maters in all their green glory. After all, I will really be missing green anything by the middle of January, and there are so many things fun things to do with green tomatoes. I’m pondering my options.

Green tomato relish, green tomato pickles, green tomato mincemeat pie, green tomato jam, green tomato soup, green tomato bread….. I’m actually leaning toward the green tomato mincemeat because that sounds so different and interesting. I found a recipe for green tomato mincemeat in an old Mother Earth News. It started with eight quarts of green tomatoes. I don’t have eight quarts. Here’s my pared-down version, with a few changes from the original. If you have more green tomatoes, the recipe could easily be increased.

NOTE: See update at the bottom of this post before making this recipe.

How to make Green Tomato Mincemeat:

2 quarts chopped green tomatoes (fine or chunky, however you like it)
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 orange, chopped, peels and all
1 small lemon, chopped, peels and all
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup molasses

Bring the combined ingredients to a boil in a large pot then simmer until thickened and ladle into jars. The recipe didn’t come with much in the way of specific canning directions. I’m thinking 5 pounds pressure, 10 minutes, like I can stewed tomatoes in the pressure canner. This should make 2 quarts mincement with a little leftover. (Update: No, it didn’t.) I’ll put the leftover in a jam jar in the fridge and use it on toast. (Update: What leftover? This one only makes a quart and a pint.)

To use, after opening a jar, combine a small amount of the filling with a tablespoon of cornstarch to make a paste then mix back in with the rest of the jar (for thickening before making pie).

The quarts will come out of the pantry in the middle of winter one at a time on cold days when I need something special. When I take them out to make my different and interesting pies, I’ll remember these sweet days of fall, the color in the trees, the puffy white clouds in the sky, and the dry driveway I could drive up….. In the bitter days of winter, barren tree branches, gray sky, and driveway under a foot of snow and ice, green tomato mincemeat pie will make it all better.

Work with me here.

UPDATE 10/16/10: This is the one and only time I’ve ever posted a recipe without trying it first. As I made the Mother Earth News recipe, I discovered it was no good, at least to my taste. Here is how I made it, and how I will make it in the future. (My apologies! I promise to never get excited and start dreaming over a recipe and post it without making it first ever again!)

Note that I not only doubled the recipe in order to make enough to be worth canning (the Mother Earth News version only made a quart and a pint), but I added brown sugar and made other increases/additions.)

Really Good Green Tomato Mincemeat:

4 quarts chopped green tomatoes (fine or chunky, however you like it)
4 cups raisins
1 cup molasses
1 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
4 oranges, chopped, peels and all
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
packed brown sugar to taste (I used 4 cups)

Bring the combined ingredients to a boil in a large pot, adding brown sugar to taste and simmering until thickened; ladle into jars. Pressure can at 5 pounds for 10 minutes, or process in a boiling water bath for 45 minutes. Makes 3 quarts.

Find this recipe (the updated version) on Farm Bell Recipes and save it to your recipe box.

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