Short daylight hours and frosty weather leave little chance of my last few tunnel-grown tomatoes ever turning red on the vine. I have placed those with a rosey hue, calyx-side up, on a sunny window sill where they will finish ripening and taste ten times better than their supermarket cousins. I have placed others in a paper bag with an almost-ripe banana. The banana will release ethylene gas which will convert my loot into a bag of sweet tasting, red tomatoes. But what to do with the really green ones? Leafing through my scrapbook of recipes-swiped-from-various-magazines I stumbled on one for green tomato marmalade. Normally I would never have marmalade in the house but seeing as autumn failed to provide me with any blackberry jam to smear on my morning toast I was willing to make a concession. I needed a substitute sugary fix and green tomato marmalade it would be.
1.5kg green tomatoes, cored and finely diced
1.7kg granulated sugar
Small stub of peeled root ginger
I used a lemon zester to remove all the zest from the 5 lemons and cut these into smaller strips. I then placed the zest in a small pan of boiling water (about 250ml) and let it simmer for nearly 3 minutes. They were then drained and rinsed under cold water and put to one side.
The white pith left on the rindless lemons was peeled off and discarded. I removed the pips from the lemons and placed them in a small piece of muslin tied with some string before chopping the lemon flesh into small chunks. The lemons, tomatoes and zest were all placed in my large jam-making pot along with the sugar and left to soak overnight.
The next day I grated the ginger into the pan and added the pips and 700ml water. I placed the pan on a low heat and stirred until all the sugar was dissolved. Then I brought the whole lot to a rolling boil stirring frequently for about 40 minutes until it passed the cold saucer test. A jam thermometer would be ideal but a cold saucer was all I had to hand. At this point I let the pan cool a little before pouring the jam into warm sterilised jars.
Now my kitchen cupboard is heaving with jars of marmalade and I may well have been won over. It has a lovely subtle taste. Tangy and slightly tart but with none of the overpowering bitterness that comes with orange marmalade. Just enough punch to waken up my taste buds in the morning.