When I pulled in the harvest, it included 7+ lbs of green tomatoes. Last Sunday I was motivated to use them and not have them go to waste. So I was digging through a canning book and I found a recipe for green tomato and apple “mincemeat.” There was meat in mincemeat pie (also known as mince pie) and some recipes today still call for beef suet, but this filling is strictly vegetarian.
As a child I remember having mincemeat pie at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. Dark, sweet, and spicy, it was favored by my father over pumpkin pie. I remember he liked “hard sauce” poured on top. I didn’t much care for the hard sauce as a youngster, which is probably just as well.
Looking back, last Sunday was an odd day, I was in the process of replenishing my Canadian bacon supply so there were two 4lb pork loins that had come out of the cure and into the hot smoker. I was in the kitchen fine chopping the green tomatoes and the apples via the food processor when suddenly a storm front started to move through. It got extremely windy, but to tell the truth, I wasn’t too concerned. After all, I don’t have any trees left to fall on the house, deck or vehicle. So some leaves were blowing sideways and the rain was coming down, as long as the smoker held at 225F, I was fine with it.
“Honey?” – the Accountant calls me Honey.
“Honey?” she called from the basement, “Do you know there is a tornado warning?”
I turned on the TV to the Weather Channel, sure enough, an angry red band on the radar was streaking across northern Illinois. The alarm system blared shrilly and the crawler on the bottom of the screen giving up to the minute information urged me to seek shelter immediately.
As I headed to the basement I gave one last peek at the smoker – yep, standing stalwart in the onslaught, 225 dead on.
The front moved quickly through, and in less than an hour the all-clear was given. The smoker was still holding steady when we emerged from the relative safety of the basement.
While the wind was still howling, the rain abated a bit and I continued chopping and peeling. With the mixture finally on the stove I started jar prep for canning – this involves getting my canning pot at a full boil and sterilizing the jars. I have an outdoor burner that will bring the pot to a boil quite quickly – it is after all a 60,000 btu burner.
But the wind kept blowing it out! As dusk fell I brought the heavy pot into the house and put it on the kitchen stove. No worries – it’ll just take more time right? Now I had two big pots on the gas stove — one full of water and jars that was taking a long time to come to a boil and the other full of delicious smelling mincemeat, slowly burbling and simmering.
Between keeping an eye on the two pots I kept checking the smoker – the pork was almost done.
Then it happened.
There was a loud buzzing and the lights flickered a couple times then went out.
Somewhere in the area a transformer had succumbed to the high winds. It is not the first time we’ve lost power, but it was a rather inopportune time. Fortunately, I’m ready for it when it does occur, in fact with outages less than 3 hours I don’t even bother with a generator.
I quickly lit the oil lamps, and positioned battery powered lights in strategic locations.
This was a first for me, canning by oil lamp, as the water came to a boil, I proceeded to pull the jars, fill them with the hot pie filling and get them back in to process for 15 minutes – according to the recipe.
While they boiled I went and pulled in the now done Canadian bacon. A few more minutes and it was time for the jars of canned mincemeat to come out. I carefully lifted them out onto a towel lined tray, and wouldn’t you know it.
As the first jar pinged indicating a good seal, the lights came back on!
It was that kind of night.
This recipe makes 12 pint jars – 8 will fit in my water bath canner so some ended up in the fridge to be canned later.
Green Tomato Mincemeat
adapted from Jackie Clay’s Growing and Canning Your Own Food
2 quarts (2 L) finely chopped tart apples – I used Granny Smith
1 lb (500 g) raisins
8 Tablespoons (120 ml) minced candied Citron peel – I could not find any and used 4 tablespoons each candied orange and lemon peel
2.5 cups (625 ml) firmly packed brown sugar
2.5 cups (625 ml) white granulated sugar
3/4 cup (175 ml) vinegar
1/2 cup (125 ml) lemon juice
2 cups (500 ml) water
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons (10 ml) salt
1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon (1 ml)ground cloves
pinch of mace – not in original recipe but certainly can’t hurt!
- Prepare jars
- Combine all ingredients in a large pot over medium heat.
- Bring to a simmer stirring often, until tomatoes and apples are tender and the mixture is slightly thickened.
- Ladle into hot jars, leaving 1/2″ head-space.
- Wipe rims if jars with a clean towel, place lids and bands on.
As I wanted to try it, Wednesday night I made the crust, and Thursday morning got up before 0500 and made the pie. The only travesty is the pie cooling on the counter while both the Accountant and I went to work.
However, it made a lovely dessert!
And, as I type this – a pretty fine breakfast!
So if you have a bunch of green tomatoes, and don’t know what to do with them, Give this a try and have mince pies all winter long!
Until next time, Eat Well & Keep Digging.
And if you’re wondering about that canadian bacon – well I can’t wait to pair it with some Brussels Sprouts! Stay tuned….