Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fall Ingredients - Using Tomatoes and Apples

Fall has been here in South Dakota for quite a while already. We barely had a summer at all. I had lots of tomatoes all summer, but mostly by buying them from the Farmers' Market. I did get some from my plants, hosted at my sister-in-law's house, but not all that many altogether. Temps kept dipping into 50s and even high 40s enough times all summer to really slow down tomato growth. So a couple of weeks back, when night temps were supposed to dip into freezing and below, my sister-in-law opted to just pick all remaining tomatoes and bring them in. Some, maybe most, will ripen eventually. Many larger ones were ripe when she brought a huge box to me a few days ago. 
Tomato Apple Balsamic Relish

Scrabbling to think of a recipe to use so many tomatoes all at once, I came up with an idea using tomatoes and apples together. It is a relish with some sweetness to it, and I feel it will be wonderful to use as an accompaniment to a nice strong cheese as an appetizer, or mixed with cream cheese to create a dip for crackers or tortilla chips. Another way I am looking forward to using this relish is to pour over chicken or pork chops while cooking, or just to serve as a relish "side" for these meats. 

Originally I was thinking in the vein of a chutney, and of course, this could also be used as a chutney; it has all the criteria. It is sweet but not overly; thick enough, but not completely thickened; has great texture. I used up 4 pounds of the tomatoes I had received, plus 1 pound of the apples that are STILL on my counter. And now I have 2 more large bags of apples from my sister-in-law's trees. One thing at a time!

In making this relish, I opted to remove the seeds from the tomatoes before chopping. Slice the tomatoes, and then over a sink or a bowl, just run a finger around the seed pockets, removing most of the liquid parts and keeping the meatier parts for chopping. Leaving in all the seeds would have required much longer cooking times to reduce the mixture to the thicker consistency I wanted. Also, I left skins on the tomatoes. If desired, you might plunge them into boiling water and peel them first.

I had lots if ideas for flavors to add to this relish. I used many of them, like balsamic vinegar, coriander seeds and even some Garam Masala. I wanted it to have a nice vinegary bite also, so along with the balsamic, I also added cider vinegar. For sweetness I used brown sugar. I wanted onions in this relish, but opted to cook them to golden before adding in any other ingredients. Pomegranate was a flavor I thought about, and went back and forth in my recipe creation: Should I...? Shouldn't I...? In the end I did add in a little pomegranate concentrate. I thought of using raisins or sultanas (white raisins), but finally opted not to use them. Altogether I was quite pleased with the outcome and am really looking forward to testing it in some of ways noted above.

Tomato Apple Balsamic Relish
Chopped apples added to golden onions

Makes 4 pints

3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 large onions [1 1/2 pounds / 6 cups], chopped
1 teaspoon salt

1 pound apples [about 3 apples or 3 1/2 cups], peeled, cored and chopped
4 pounds tomatoes, seeds removed, chopped very small (8 1/2 cups)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons pomegranate concentrate, optional

2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
1 teaspoon Garam Masala
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 - 2 teaspoons more salt, as needed

In a large nonreactive pot, melt the butter and olive oil together and add in the onions and the salt and saute slowly, over medium low heat, stirring often, for about 20 or more minutes, until they are soft and golden.

Have a large canning pot of boiling water to sterilize pint canning jars and rings.

While onions are caramelizing, prepare the tomatoes. Slice them and remove seeds, then chop the remaining "meat" of the tomatoes until you have 8 1/2 cups. Peel and core the apples and chop them into small bits. Once onions are caramelized, add in the tomatoes, apples, sugar, vinegar and pomegranate concentrate if using. Add in all the spices and 1 teaspoon of the remaining salt. Stir well, bring to a boil and cook over low boil for 40 or 45 minutes, until much of the liquids have cooked out. Once the mixture is beginning to look a bit like preserves, pack the relish into pint jars. Cover with sterile lids and rings. 

Process the jars in boiling water to cover for 10 minutes up to 1,000 feet, 15 minutes from 1,001 to 5,000 feet, and 20 minutes from 5,001 feet and up.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.