Spicy green tomato and apple chutney – move over, Mrs Ball!

This easy spicy green tomato and apple chutney is the perfect way to use up the last of the tomatoes that refuse to ripen!


I like to believe that things happen for a reason.

The reason is sometimes frustratingly not apparent at the time when things are happening, but if you wait long enough, nine times out of ten the reason becomes apparent later.

If things had gone according to plan, I would have planted my Moneymaker tomatoes, lovingly tended them, got Nick to make a growing frame for them, trimmed their leaves to give the fruit more sun, and this beautiful crop of 36 or so tomatoes would slowly grow to sun-ripened scarlet goodness and become caprese salads, roasted tomato sauces and pizza toppings.

But that’s not what happened.  Well, the first part did happen, albeit (ahem!) a few weeks later than tomatoes were supposed to be planted.  But all seemed to go according to plan from there.  The seeds germinated, the plants flourished and the crop looked promising.


But that’s when Things Happened.  Two things in particular:  a spectacularly un-sunny summer which simply did not ripen the tomatoes; followed by my trip to the USA during which time my neighbour kept an eye on my garden.  She did a fine job, and left the tomatoes on the plants to try and catch some late sun and ripen.  As there had been a cold snap while I was away, I thought the few wilted, brown leaves might have been a result of this.  It was only when the brown bits spread that I read up and realised it was tomato blight.  Bugger!!  So all bets were off and all the tomatoes that were free of brown marks had to be picked immediately – green as green can be.

I did toy with making fried green tomatoes, but since Nick had spent so much time making the growing frame I thought it woudl be churlish to finish all the tomatoes while he was still in Chicago.  So the race was on to find something I could make that woudl keep till he came back.  Inspiration came from an unusual source – EAT sandwich shop.  I was too lazy to make sandwiches one day last week so I popped down there for lunch and got a Cheddar ploughman’s sandwich.  But something about this sandwich was different to the ones I’d had before – the chutney they were using was new and super-delicious.  It was listed on the back of the pack as green tomato and apple chutney, and in a flash I knew what I’d be doing with my green tomatoes.

I will confess to being a jam/chutney virgin and was slightly worried that this plan would go horribly wrong, but armed with a recipe from the BBC (which I halved and added some spice to) and some advice from the internet as to how to sterlise jars, I gave it a go.  The thing that has always put me off making jams and preserves is the sterilisation of the jars – and if you share my trepidation, let me set your mind at east – it’s not difficult!  I promise.  I’m a total wuss and I managed. And the resulting chutney was so spectacularly good as to rival South Africa’s favourite, Mrs Ball’s.

So what seemed like a gardening disaster happened for a reason, and that reason is 2 jars of heaven.  If life gives you green tomatoes, make chutney!

20081123 - GreenTomatoChutneyCollage

GREEN TOMATO & APPLE CHUTNEY (makes approx 2 x 400g jars)


1 kg tomatoes, chopped
250g green apple, cored, peeled & chopped
125g raisins, chopped
315g shallots, chopped
8g root ginger (or 1 heaped tsp chopped ginger in brine)
3-4 fresh chillies (I used1/2 tsp chilli flakes)
1tsp salt
1/4 tsp allspice
250g brown sugar
285 ml vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)


If you are using fresh ginger root and chillies, bruise the ginger slightly and chop the chillies.  Tie in a piece of muslin.  If, like me, you don’t own a piece of muslin or fresh ginger root, take a  heaped teaspoon of grated ginger in brine and 1/2 a teaspoon of chilli flakes and place them in a tea infusion ball.  Attach by its hook to the side of the pot you are using so that it will hang in the chutney mixture without getting lost.

Chop all apples, tomatoes, raisins and shallots.  Place in a large pot together with the other ingredients and bring to the boil.  Stir until all the sugar has dissolved, then turn the heat down to leave it on a low simmer until the desired consistency is reached.  I left mine till most of the liquid had cooked away, probably an hour or so.

To sterilise the jars:

Wash the jars and lids in hot, soapy water.  Place the damp jars upside down in a cold oven and turn it to 160C.  Once the oven has heated up to 160C the jars are ready to be used.  In the meantime, place the lids in a small saucepan of water and bring to the boil.  Boil for 5 minutes, after which the lids are ready to use.

Carefully remove the HOT jars from the oven and fill each with chutney.  Screw the lid on tightly.  As the chutney starts to cool, the lid should be sucked down into the sealed position (I was impetient and kept popping the lids down to see if they’d stay down and was squealing with unbridled delight when they sealed. But I’m a little strange that way.)

I’m submitting this recipe to Rachel of The Crispy Cook who is hosting the current edition of Grow Your Own, the event where you cook with produce that you’ve grown yourself.

Follow me every day in November as I complete National Blog Posting Month – a post a day, every day, for 30 days! Here’s what I’ve written so far.

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  1. says

    I LOVE chutney and started making it as Christmas gifts a few years ago. My favourite is still the traditional apple chutney but this version looks great. Considering I have a large crop of still green tomatoes outside and rain is predicted for the next week I might even be forced to harvest them just to try your recipe! Will let you know.

  2. says

    Well done – it looks great!
    That way of sterilising jars sounds good too. I’ve always been lazy and just washed them, then filled them with boiling water, to stand until the jam was ready. If the jars are wet, you just put a metal spoon in as you pour the water, so they don’t crack in the heat.

  3. says

    Great story, Jeanne.
    I have always avoided jar sterilization because things went pretty bad with me once and my jam jars went all green.
    Every time I make jams, curds and sauce I make one pot only for immediate consumption. Maybe I can try again.
    Have a great week!

  4. says

    I haven’t made this for ages! but I’m getting my apron on.
    I did 12 jars of Piccalilli for Christmas pressies, by request, and promptly forgot about myself! and my love of tomato chutney. Thanks for the reminder :0)

  5. says

    I’m a chutney virgin too, Jeanne– even though I’m madly in love with the stuff, when I go to Indian restaurants :) I ought to do something about it too! Thanks for the gently shove 😉

  6. says

    You go girl!!!! It looks like a stunning one and one I have never made! I am chutney crazy and have made it with almost everything – except green tomatoes. I adore pasta and always make pasta sauce with green tomatoes when I can get it. As you usual your photo’s are beautiful!!!
    Will give you feedback on the green tomato chutney the minute I get some green tomatoes!

  7. says

    You know, one of my favourite things in the whole world is a good cheese plate, and a good cheese plate with a home-made chutney? Hellooo! Heaven!
    I almost wish I had planted tomatoes and that they’d gotten blight. And now the fruits of all that labour will last a lot longer than if you’d fried them up. Yum!

  8. says

    It is time for a SA holiday if you are taking on Mrs Balls, Jeanne!!!!! I prefer the taste of Wellngtons though, because the spices reminds me of my gran’s chutney!I am still waiting for my tomatoes, so I’ll keep this one for when they are ready.
    Ps my dad just made me a killer herb stand, will post about it later. Maybe Nick can copy and make for you too!

  9. says

    the first time i tried a chutney, i was very surprised to like it as much as i did. now i eat whenever i can, although i’ve never made my own. i think this is a spectacular use for green tomatoes (of which i had several)–the combination with apples had no choice but to be delightful. :)

  10. says

    Great entry for Grow Your Own and I’m happy to see that you have had success with canning. Green tomato chutney is a great way to use up those boatloads of green tomatoes!

  11. Avril Taylor Spacey says

    What is the storage life of the chutney? Am dying to try it! Loads of green tomatoes to use up as well as apples!

  12. says

    I love making chutney and the green tomato and raisin one I made a few years ago matured into something super special after a couple of years in the cupboard!

    Re: sterilisation, I have always done my jars in the oven but I do mine right side up on a baking tray. When my chutney is ready, the whole tray comes out onto a cork surface protector and I (or Pete) fill the chutney straight into the jars. I sterilise the lids as you do, in a saucepan of boiling water on the stove top and drain them on a clean tea towel a few minutes before I need them. As each jar is filled, a lid goes on, is sealed tightly and we turn the jar upside down for half a minute, putting it down on the tray. Once the next jar has been dealt with, we go back to the previous and turn it right way up. I read that this helps do a final sterilisation of the underside of the jar and means we don’t need to use the wax lids people sometimes use for jams and jellies.

    Hope your chutney matures beautifully, am sure it will. If you can resist eating it all straight away, leave a few jars for 6 months, 1 year and 2 years and get a feel for how it matures.


  13. sarah pippilini says

    My darling child…

    As you well know I am deep into my studies at the moment and as an assside may I suggest that boiling the jars and the lids in a pressure cooker for 15 mins would be a tad easier?

    Oh yea and dont ever forget that youre not strange. ..u just a tad queer!!!!

  14. Alister says

    I have lots of green tomatoes and apples, this recipe looks great. I also find that putting the jars in the oven the easiest way for me. Thanks so much for sharing and the very helpful comments !