Tomato chutney recipe

10/25/2011 - 11:55

Having enjoyed an abundance of delicious "Fiorentino" tomatoes all summer from 4 plants, the first ground frost has arrived in Casentino Alto, and I have now lots of green tomatoes. My day yesterday was a chutney one and I made 3 batches. Recipe no 1 was Nigel Slater - a bit sharp, probably good with cheese. Recipe 2 -Good Housekeeping with apple made me think of Roast Pork, so I decided to make up my own using ingredients that would go together. The result was good and will be used as a bruschetta topping. I thought I would share it with you---My recipe:900g Green and red tomatoes chopped3 medium red onions chopped3 cloves garlic squashed1 dessertspoon crushed peppercorns1 dessert spoon salted capers1 bay leaf1/2 lemon zest4 tablespoons sugar150ml white wine vinegarlarge bunches of basil and parsley choppedCook together over a medium heat stirring occasionaly until thick. Then blitz to a rough puree and pack in hot jars and seal.



Congratulations! It sounds like a great recipe. I particularly like the addition of capers. Green tomatoes are pickled in Italy and also preserved in vinegar or oil (sott'aceto or sott'olio). Great to have at home to accompany a variety of dishes. Did you use white or brown sugar for your recipe? I guess that either could be used. I also think that green tomatoes could be preserved in a "mostarda". After all, tomatoes are fruits. Any recipe around?

I used white sugar, as I thought the muscavado  would be too much like Branston pickle! I was recently surprized at a recent GeoGeo tv programme talking about potatoes and stressing that green parts on the potato was toxic ( as we know) but they also said that green tomatoes were toxic. A case of the expert being mistaken! When I was a child visiting Ticino on holiday we often were served a green tomato salad, and tomatoes for salad in the local market are often bicolour.

There are quite a few legends associated with tomatoes. Most Europeans waited a long time before adopting them as a food and, although discovered in America at the time of Cortés and widely used by the Indians, they were not fully established in Europe until the 18th Century. Many thought that it was a poisonous plant (same thing happened with the potato). There is, though, a bit of truth in that the stems and leaves of the plant can be toxic as they contain substances such as "tomatine" and tropane alkaloids. On the other hand, the amount of tomatine contained in the fruit, whether it is ripe or not, is minimal and the lycopene antioxidant is a blessing as it protects us against many types of cancer. A friend of my daughters, who live in the US and who is a scientist and an expert in this field, has kindly explained to me all the wonderful properties of tomatoes. And they taste great, too!!!! You are right, in some countries they use salad tomatoes which are not very ripe, almost green, as they prefer a harder type than the ripe ones. I have eaten them and I am sure that they cause no harm.

I made your recipe last weekend, roseitat, and produced 5 jars.  It smells lovely and I shall definitely do as you suggest and use if as a bruschetta topping.  I read somewhere the other day that chutney improves with keeping and loses the vinegary taste, so shall resist opening it until Christmas!  

It is true that chutney improves over time and it also looses the vinegar flavour. It also keeps very well for several months.... if you can resist from eating it.... I would say that this chutney will be great to accompany a frittata (perhaps a zucchini one).

The "urban myth" about tomatoes being toxic also came about because the acidity in the tomatoes reacts with aluminium and copper which is what most pans were made with in the bad old days.  Small amounts of copper are good for everyday health. However, large amounts in a single dose or over a short period can be poisonous. It is not certain how much can be safely taken each day. In the old days of non-lined cooking pots, this meant that more of these metals were leached into the cooking tomatoes and were considered to be a very dangerous combination. However, nowadays all modern cooking pans are either lined or anodised, thus eliminating any latent worries. Tomatoes are good for you and I just love those red ones with the green tops which make a splendid tomato salad with just the right amount of acidity to lift it from blandness.

I totally agree with Raggio and this brings us back to the discussion we had in another thread: Copper was particularly dangerous as it can leak. Same thing with aluminium, which is nowadays linked to Alzheimer's disease. The acidic content in tomatoes could cause unwanted reactions. Even nowadays, some people do not tolerate very well their acidic content and it is sometimes recommended to remove skins and seeds and evento add some baking soda. There are some experiments being made to create tomatoes with a lesser acidic content and some people with digestive problems do not tolerate them very well. Basically, cooking and food science is chemistry in action. For this reason, cast iron and ceramic cookware are excellent, but copper is nowadays treated to avoid the problems that existed in the past.