I received 40 pounds (yes, FORTY pounds!) of green tomatoes from my friend Renee. Last week was a grand canning adventure.
In an attempt to ripen a few of the tomatoes, I put a few pounds in a brown paper bag. Several did turn red, enough to can curry ketchup and a salsa, which was very runny. It turns out green tomatoes forced to ripen become quite mushy. I also canned green tomato ketchup and a green tomato currant chutney. But my favorite was this, Green Tomato Orange Marmalade.
Maybe you are asking yourself how I am going to qualify this as a sweet. Well, it’s got 5 cups of sugar in it, which makes is about as sweet as anything else you’ll find here. Plus I needed to use one of my challenge ingredients. Tim had suggested I use Malt Extract from the homebrewer’s store, but it contains gluten so I had to choose an alternate ingredient. While shopping in Columbia, Renee spotted pH strips in the homebrew section at Cool Stuff. Perfect! Remember when I blogged about the amazing canning class I attended? Well, there was much talk about pH levels in safe home canning and Renee, who manages an academic lab, had some great ideas about pH testing, including using these strips. It’s a great fit for this week’s sweet!
What I need to tell you is that this is not a perfect method for testing pH in your home-canned products. You should only can from recipes tested and verified by a canning authority. The pH level in canned goods is critical, especially when using the water bath method (as opposed to pressure canning). I share this recipe with the disclosure that I have tested it with pH strips, found it to be acidic, but do not have an accurate pH meter and have not submitted this for professional testing. Whew.
Here’s how I used pH strips: I dipped one strip in the marmalade and it turned red (acidic). I dipped another strip in a mixture of baking soda and water (alkaline) and it turned blue. Low pH equals high acidity. To safely can, the pH level needs to be 4.6 or lower. In this case, I used green tomatoes which are very acidic. However adding other ingredients may reduce the acidity, so I wouldn’t use this method with any concoction that I did not know to be quite acidic. I also would not recommend using this with anything that has a red or orange color, as it would make reading the strip difficult.
Wanna know what I do with this marmalade? I eat it on toast. I really like it on cinnamon raisin toast. I know that sounds like an odd combination but it is delicious! I also like it on a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s kind of like tomato soup and grilled cheese all in one. I’ve even used this instead of sauce on pizza crust and topped it with caramelized onions and goat cheese. In a pinch, it makes a quick party treat, a bit poured over cream cheese or Tofutti’s Better Than Cream Cheese and served with crackers.
Green Tomato Orange Marmalade (makes 10 1/2 pints)
1 cup water
4 pounds green tomatoes
5 cups sugar
1/4 cup crystallized ginger
Peel the oranges and lemon. Place the rind in 1 cup of water and boil for 5 minutes. Drain the water.
Chop the tomatoes. There is no need to peel or core them. I do slice off the very top to eliminate the stem area. I used this gadget to chop the tomatoes. Place is large, heavy-bottomed stock pot with citrus rind, sugar and crystallized ginger. Cook over medium heat, covered, for 2 hours. Stir occasionally. Remove lid in the last 30 minutes. Mixture will be bubbly and may pop, so proceed with caution. You may wish to continue cooking beyond 2 hours if the mixture has not yet reduced to a sticky marmalade consistency.
Can using the water bath method. If you are unfamiliar, I recommend this site from the University of Missouri Extension for instructions on how to water bath can. Process for 12 minutes in 1/2 pint jars.
I’d love to hear what you are doing with your end-of-season green tomatoes. Are you canning or freezing the last remnants of this year’s crop?