Saturday 12 October 2013

Green Tomato Chutney

We are a bit tied down this morning having to stay in earshot or sight of the front gate waiting on delivery of the new freezer from Euronics in Castlerea. The guy had said he'd phone, but they never do, they just turn up. Luckily, the dogs will generally have at least one of their number on look out through the front upstairs windows or from half way up the stairs and when they kick off barking you just know there will be someone at the gate. And so it went and the freezer is now doing its mandatory 24 hour stand upright before you turn it on, so that any airlocks and bubbles can clear.

Cherry toms and mango and kiwi chutney
So, rather than fire up the noisy chainsaw out round the back again, I opted for the quiet pottering job of stripping all the tomato plants in the poly tunnel of their fruit, either ripe or unripe so that Liz could get cracking on the green (and yellow) tomato chutney and some red tomato "jam" (more like a spiced up relish - delicious!). These plants were all cherry tomato varieties this year, either yellow or red and we have had some decent crop off them but now it is October and they are still producing flowers and looking like they will go on till Christmas. Enough is enough.

Liz had already had a go at one of our house favourites, kiwi and mango chutney and made that superb stock yesterday, which wound up also delivering a big yogurt pot of separated fat which will go very well in the roasting of spuds. Our local supermarket, SuperValue is very canny in this respect, producing 'kits' for prospective chutney makers (this being how we came to 'invent' kiwi and mango); you get a pack containing a mango, some kiwis, ginger, garlic and a lemon clearly labelled "Mango and Kiwi Chutney Pack". No recipe, so we guessed you are just meant to wing it but we were OK with that.

On the left green/yellow tom chutney, on the right red tomato jam
They also do a rather superb Guacamole pack - 2 deep purple Hass avocadoes, tomatoes, an onion and a chilli. In that one they may have stitched themselves up a bit, as the Hass 'avo's were quite expensive that day on their own, and it was cheaper to buy the two in the pack and get the rest of the stuff free. We guess they know what they are doing. Made lovely guacamole, anyway!

Having stripped the toms, I then got all carried away and completely cleared the poly tunnel of its jungle of rampant tom plants, pumpkins and squashes (Yes, we did find a custard squash, all of 2 inches diameter!) chickweed, strawberry runners, nettles, nasturtiums and flat leaved parsley. The strawberries I need to keep have been sheared of old leaves and runners, as has the parsley but everything else has been hauled up by the roots. It all got a bit embarrassingly out of hand this year as I did way too little weeding and pruning. Next year I will not grow anything even remotely rambling, spreading or climbing in there. I have compost heaps a mile high.

While I was in there, Liz converted my tomato haul into a green and yellow tomato chutney and rendered the red ones down as a 'tomato jam'; a 'slop' of toms, chillies, garlic and ginger which is like an extremely zingy salsa or relish. These will both be neatly bottled up in what is now our standard size and shape jar, the 454 g Lidl peanut butter or mayonnaise jar. We had a massive run to the glass bottle bank this week and got rid of mountains of weird and wonderful huge, tiny and odd-shape jars that we seem to have accumulated.

In other news the Marans hens have finally come off lay because they have come into moult. They look very woe-begone with their feathers all sticking out in tufts at strange angles. Bless them, they are 5-6 years old now and probably shouldn't be laying at all, but they both crank one out every 24 hours when they are in lay and kept us afloat this summer while our own Sussex Pontes had a bit of a holiday. One of the sheep (16A) has now got tame enough that he (it's a ram) likes to come up and have his head, ears and neck tickled if I go and stand quietly in the field. If I stop he nudges my hand gently with his forehead as if asking me to continue. Another comes close but dances away if I try to tickle her and the others stand at a respectful distance. I then get very questioning looks from the dogs who smell sheep lanolin on my hands. Love 'em.

1 comment:

Mr Silverwood said...

I can see why you need the extra freezer, all looking very productive this year