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Relish this savory-sweet idea for summer produce

Recipe: Plum-plum tomato chutney like a chunky ketchup

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Dark plums and ripe plum tomatoes combine in a summery chutney. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)


An overload of Juliet tomatoes and a big basket of purple plums inspired this recipe.

After I made several batches of plum jam and tomato sauce, it was time to move on to something that combines the sweet with the savory: Chutney.

This version is nothing like commercial, vaguely Indian chutneys. My tomato-based chutney tastes more like an upscale chunky ketchup with a pleasant balance of sweet and tart. It’s a tasty relish on burgers, hot dogs or sandwiches as well as an accompaniment to pork chops or tenderloin. It works with French fries, too.

Meatier in texture, plum tomatoes cook down faster than their round counterparts, so I like to use them in chutneys, which thicken on the stove. (And it makes for a fun recipe name.)

This recipe can scale up or down, depending on how many tomatoes and plums you have sitting on the counter.

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Refrigerate or process the chutney.


Plum-plum tomato chutney
Makes 4 cups

Ingredients:

1 ½ pounds plum tomatoes
1 ½ pounds dark plums
1 cup onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons red wine
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon ginger
½ cup raisins
¼ cup sugar or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions:

Wash and roughly chop tomatoes. Pit and finely chop plums. Set aside.

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Chutney simmers for up to an hour or more.
In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven, melt butter. Sauté chopped onion until translucent.

Add tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt. Stir and sauté for 5 minutes or until tomatoes begin to soften.

Rinse raisins with boiling water.

Add broth, red wine, vinegar, ginger and raisins to the tomato mixture. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, uncovered.

Add chopped plums, including any accumulated juices. Adjust heat to keep mixture bubbling but not a full boil, stirring often.

Add sugar, adjusting the amount to the sweetness of the plums.

Let mixture cook down to desired consistency, stirring often to prevent sticking. This can take 20 minutes to an hour or more, depending on how juicy the tomatoes and plums are. Be patient and keep stirring every few minutes.

When chutney is almost done, add salt and pepper to taste.

Store in the refrigerator or process in jars. This chutney also freezes well.

To process in jars: Process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Makes 4 half-pints.

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RECIPE

A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.

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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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