Dateline: Piedmont, CA, October 2, 2010. Fall is here, at last. The young children across the street have begged their parents to string up holiday lights with jack-o-lanterns. (We love them – the parents and the children, that is – anyway.) In less than two months, baking for The Big Holiday Month will have begun in earnest. It’s time to make that mincemeat-like stuff I adore, which I don’t call “mincemeat” because it doesn’t include any meat. My new favorite recipe for it is made with apples and green tomatoes. To my knowledge, green tomatoes are one of the few produce items you can only get when they actually are in season. And, perhaps fortuitously, their season here ends at precisely the time that I should be making this anyway. It needs a good 8 weeks to mature. I’ll be posting in early December a number of great recipes for using this. Stay tuned. —AntoniaJames
3 1/2 pints
6 medium apples (about 2 ¼ pounds before trimming)
6 large green tomatoes (about 3 pounds before trimming)
¼ cup dark molasses (Don’t use blackstrap. It’s too bitter.)
1 ½ cup brown sugar
½ cup dark rum
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon mace
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ cup organic cider vinegar
In This Recipe
Quarter, core and very coarsely chop (2-3 pieces per quarter) the apples. Don’t peel them. Grind them in a food grinder or carefully pulse in a food processor until they are about the texture you’d use in slaw.
Remove the calyxes from the tomatoes, quarter them and cut out any hard, very white core that you see. Grind them in a food grinder or carefully pulse in a food processor until they are about the same texture as the apples.
Put the tomatoes and apples in a jamming pan or a large, heavy saucepan. Add all of the other ingredients and stir well. Cook for about a half an hour over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking and to make sure that the liquids are well distributed while cooking.
When nearly all the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is quite sticky, ladle it into clean, hot jars.
For shelf stable storage, seal and process according to the jar manufacturer’s instructions in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes. Let the jars sit for at least ten minutes before carefully removing and placing on a surface where they can remain undisturbed for at least 24 hours.
Do NOT turn them over, even if your mother did it for fifty years and you read some blogger's instructions on the internet to do it this way. And don't shake them either. The materials and procedures used in canning have changed a lot in the past few years.
Check the jars’ seals before putting into storage for at least 6 weeks before using. Refrigerate after opening.
If you don’t want to process in a boiling water bath, very tightly cap and refrigerate it until using within three months.
N.B. The basic ratios of fruit, sugar and acid come from a very old and much loved cookbook that I bought in the 1980’s called “Apples, Apples, Apples," by Judith Comfort and Katherine Chute. I’ve played with the sweeteners, spices and dried fruit to make it my own. Actually, I should probably say, "to make it just like the mincemeat my mother bought in small, hard blocks and used in her holiday baking when I was a girl." Mine, as one would expect, is a slightly different color. ;o)
When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)