I grow tomatoes in my vegetable garden all year round. That’s one of the benefits of living in the tropics. But I do have problems with them in the rainy season when they are much more susceptible to being attached by pests and diseases because of the higher humidity.
All my vegetables are grown organically, and in the dry season I’m always able to keep pests and diseases under control with the various organic pest control solutions that I mix up, but not so in the wet season. Too often the bushes just get overwhelmed with the pests and diseases that can attack tomatoes, so when that occurs, I end up pulling up all the bushes and burning them.
By the time that happens there’s usually plenty of green tomatoes already on the bushes, so I don’t waste those. I pick the green tomatoes before burning the bushes, and with the larger ones that are starting to show a little color I put them into brown paper bags and store them in the coolest and darkest place I can find in my pantry. Most of them ripen up after a week or two.
For the smaller to medium sized ones (which are too immature to successfully ripen up in the brown bags), I use them to pickle and make chutney. Green tomato chutney tastes great on ham sandwiches and as a relish for meat dishes, but as it has no preservatives it only keeps for about three weeks in the refrigerator. So don’t make more than you can consume in that period.
What makes this recipe different to other recipes for green tomato chutney is the use of coconut vinegar. This introduces a subtle flavor that is different to when you use other types of vinegar. Coconut vinegar is readily available in most tropical countries, but if it’s not where you live, then try using other types of local vinegars.
- 250 g green tomatoes
- 6 g salt (for marinating)
- 50 ml coconut vinegar
- 10 g red chilies
- 1 tbsp ground garlic
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger
- 10 g salt (for cooking)
- 250 g sugar
- Wash the green tomatoes and remove the eyes. Chop them into small pieces.
- Marinate the chopped tomatoes in 6 g of salt for 12 hours.
- Grind the red chilies and grate the ginger. The type of chilies that you use will depend on how spicy you like your chutney.
- Sauté the tomatoes in the coconut vinegar till tender.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and keep cooking over a low heat until they mix well and become mushy. When it gels it is ready. This will take at least 15- 20 minutes.
- Store in a clean sterilized jar in the fridge and use within 2-3 weeks.
By the way, if like me you have problems growing tomatoes in the rainy season, and you end up pulling up all the bushes, don’t grow tomatoes in that same spot in the dry season. Find another spot for them in the vegetable garden because whenever I’ve done that I’ve always found they get attacked by the same pests or diseases.
I guess it must be due to what is left in the soil. It’s better to rotate your crops because what attacks tomatoes won’t necessarily attack other vegetables. Crop rotation is a good idea even if you aren’t having problems with pests and diseases. It’s one of the secrets to growing healthy vegetables.
Header image: © Jesiel Ziel