Wednesday 16 December 2015

Tomatillo chutney

As well as the quince (see below), my other great glut this year was tomatillos, with hundreds of fruit bursting out of their papery husks and dragging the spindly stems to the ground.

This Mexican fruit, second cousin to a green tomato but actually more closely related to the physalis, or cape gooseberry, grows exceptionally well in a sunny spot in the UK, so long as you don't plant the seedlings outside until after the last frosts. The fruits swell to the size of cherry tomatoes inside their papery husks, although they remain green. They're ready to pick once the husks are full and firm and beginning to split.

The following is inspired by a recipe at Allrecipes, although I've added a few extra ingredients I had to hand. I wanted to combine the tomatillos with the equally Mexican jalapeno chillies ripening in the garden to give the chutney a spicy kick without overpowering it.

I can also never resist adding fresh dates to a chutney. They start appearing in the middle eastern greengrocers around here at chutney-making time: they add bulk, texture and sweetness to the final chutney. Dried packaged dates will do just as well although you could use fewer of them to keep the sweetness levels manageable.

Tomatillo, date and jalapeno chutney
900g tomatillos, or you can mix tomatillos with green tomatoes, or even sneak some red tomatoes in there.
15-20 fresh dates, stoned
15-20 dried dates
2 large persimmons (kaku)
2 jalapeno chillies, or more to taste
2 medium yellow onions
125g (about 8 knobs) crystallised ginger
60g brown sugar
1 teasp salt
450ml cider vinegar
1½ tbsp. pickling spice
1 tbsp brown mustard seed

Makes five medium jars

Chop the tomatillos, dates, persimmons, chillies, onions and ginger. Put all the ingredients into a large non-reactive pan and heat slowly to start with until the sugar dissolves and the juices are released. Then bring to the boil and simmer for 1-2 hours, until the chutney has thickened and darkened in colour. Check every so often to make sure it does not burn.
Remove from the heat and spoon into sterilised jars. Seal and leave to cool before storing in a cool dark place.
Tomatillo plant showing both flower and fruit forming.

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