October is here and I’m still bringing in buckets of tomatoes of all sizes every day – just when salad season is kind of over. (Note to self: next year, get the tomato plants into the ground much earlier.) So my search for tomato ideas goes on. My passata-lake is swelling apace, and I’m putting whole plum tomatoes in jars too. This relishy chutney, which goes wonderfully with strong cheeses, is a way of using up some of the delicious tiny ones.
Cherry tomatoes – 1.2 kg
Onion – 600 g
White wine vinegar – 150 ml
Sugar – 250 g
Garlic – 4-5 cloves
Ginger – 1.5 cm cube
Coriander – 1 tsp
Black pepper corns 1/2 tsp
Cardamon – 5 seeds
Fresh chilli – 1/2
Olive oil – 1 tbsp
This is a simple recipe, but requires a little forethought. Heat your oven to 150°C or less. Spread the cherry tomatoes in a single layer on a large metal sheet lined with baking paper, and allow them to roast very gently for about two hours until they’re soft, and any juice that has oozed out is bubbling on the paper in caramelly fashion, without catching and burning.
While the tomatoes are cooking, peel the onions (I use some red and come ordinary ones), cut them in half, and slice the halves very thinly. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the minced garlic, peeled and grated ginger, finely chopped chilli, the onions and all the spices and fry them over a gentle heat until the onions are soft.
Now add the vinegar and the sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves completely. Leave the mix barely simmering over a low heat for another ten minutes or so, then tip the tomatoes in and continue cooking for a further ten or 15 minutes. You should stir everything from time to time to make sure that nothing is sticking to the bottom, but do this very gently: you don’t want to bruise the tomatoes and turn them all into a slush: most of them should remain whole.
The chutney should now be juicy but not runny. Spoon it into sterilised jars and screw the lids on tightly; these quantities should produce four 350 ml jars.
The flavour of chutneys and relishes will improve if they’re left to stand for a month or six weeks before you delve into them – though I freely admit I find this kind of self-restraint extremely challenging. As the life expectancy of any chutney in our household is brief, my usual course of action for one cooked so lightly is to keep the jars in the fridge and eat them within two or three months.
That said, as I’m making more chutneys and relishes at the moment than even we can consume, I have taken to pasteurising some jars to extend their eat-by dates. To do this, follow the instructions given at the end of the passata recipe mentioned above.
©Anne Hanley, 2013