Green Tomato Relish

A while ago I shared a Hot Pepper Jelly recipe, which is my favorite jam/jelly recipe. But my absolute favorite thing I’ve ever canned is Green Tomato Relish, which is a delicious savory/sweet combination that leaves Hunt’s in the dust. I discovered it last year and made a bunch of jars and then hoarded them until late in the winter because, like a rich man with a mattress full of more money than he’ll ever spend, I feared the tragedy of inadvertently running out before grilled hot dog season. And we used it. A lot. But it was still clear that we weren’t going to use it all, so I got less stingy later in the year and shared some with people I love.

This year, Phil had to pick all the green tomatoes while I was away for my annual knitters’ weekend. So I came home to three grocery bags of green tomatoes, which I figured I’d get through in a couple of nights. I haven’t. I’ve been rearranging them and culling any that are starting to turn rotten. I’ve arranged and rearranged them in big bowls. I’ve frozen any that are starting to turn red (or yellow, or orange, or whatever their heirloom color is). This weekend I spent Sunday afternoon canning green tomato jelly, green tomato pickles, and green tomato relish. This made a pretty pile on our kitchen table, but five hours of canning only got rid of maybe a third of the remaining tomatoes.

Last night I made more relish. Tonight I’m making more pickles. This weekend we’re having dinner with several families at a friend’s house, and I’m taking a green tomato pie (a depression-era substitute for apple pie). I’m starting to see green tomatoes in my sleep.

So the relish. This recipe makes about 7 pints, and I’ll probably be making another batch soon. So if you’re a friend, family member, neighbor, well-wisher, or anyone who has had casual contact with us, I’ll probably be pressing a jar of relish in your hands sometime soon. Be thankful. It looks fairly pedestrian, but it’s so good.

Once you do a tiny bit of prep, this recipe has almost no hands-on time. Start by finely chopping all the vegetables in a food processor. I don’t have a full-size food processor; I have a little one that can fit on my blender. This step takes me maybe 15 minutes with my little processor. If you have a bigger one, it will be faster. If you don’t have one, you’ll be chopping for about four days.

Put the chopped vegetables in a strainer so that a lot of the liquid can drain out. I just throw the veggies in the pasta basket of a large soup pot and let the liquid drain into the pot. It sits like this for about an hour, and a lot of liquid drains off. You can throw this liquid down the sink, but I usually pour it on our garden out the door, since it’s got some extra nutrients that plants like. I’m sure our depression-era forebears who invented green tomato pie would use it in soup, but I don’t. I’ve potty trained three kids, so a big pot of yellow liquid isn’t something I’m inclined to eat.

Then just mix in the rest of the ingredients, boil them together for a few minutes, and can in a water-bath canner. Here’s the recipe.

Green Tomato Relish

12 (give or take) large green tomatoes, stem cut out
3 cored and deseeded bell peppers (make 2 or 3 of them red or orange)
2 peeled large sweet onions like Vidalias, or about 4 smaller onions
1-1/2 Tbsp. celery seed
1-1/2 Tbsp. mustard seed
1/2 Tbsp. salt
2-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar

Chop up the first three ingredients in a food processor. Let these chopped vegetables drain for about an hour to remove extra liquid. Pour the drained vegetables into a large stock pot, and then add the celery seed, mustard seed, salt, sugar, and vinegar. Bring to a boil and let gently boil for about 5 minutes. Fill sterilized jars with hot relish. Process in a water bath canner for 30 minutes. (Go back to the Hot Pepper Jelly link if you don’t know how.) Once the jars are removed from the canner, have cooled, and have sealed, pop open a jar and eat from the can with a spoon. Or serve it with hot dogs and sausage, if you’re a traditionalist.


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