Sunday, October 17, 2010

Making Green Tomato Relish.

We have 32 pounds of mostly green tomatoes that were picked while pulling out the remaining tomato vines. We're going to use these to make another batch of Green Tomato Relish, using the same recipe as last year when it turned out so well.

Our food grinder has an interesting history. It was purchased as an antique in a rummage sale in Washington State by a friend who lived there. It came with only one cutter, so she decided to use it to make applesauce. She did that for 2 or 3 apple seasons. Then life found her moving to the east coast. The food grinder was shipped with everything else across the country to Virginia. The need for space came along so they donated some things to a church rummage sale, the food grinder was included. I saw it and immediately bought it for only one dollar. That's when we got its story. I used it to make my green tomato relish last year and it worked great!

Here are the ground up tomatoes in an 18 quart heavy gauge stainless steel stock pot. The tomatoes have a nice fresh green appearance.

Just finished grinding up the red and green peppers for the relish. It looks like a Christmas dish is being prepared.

The tomatoes and peppers are in the pot. I'm thankful to have such a great pot for cooking and canning. This is a lot of ingredients, and the onions haven't been added yet.

My wife and I shed some tears over this part of the process. Grinding up seven pounds of sweet onions!

After thoroughly mixing the ground tomatoes, peppers and onions, the mixture had to be drained in colanders for one hour to remove the excess water. You can hardly see them, but the colanders are sitting in bowls.

Sterilizing the jars is very important for the food safety aspect of this work. You don't want to risk getting a case of botulism. You don't want to waste your efforts and ingredients either. I boil my jars for ten minutes and then turn off the heat. I let them sit there until ready for use. Since the mixture has to be brought to a boil and then simmered for 5 minutes, hot ingredients into hot jars is my preferred way to go.

There is another benefit from using a heavy old Navy ship's stock pot that weighs several pounds by itself. Look on the interior walls of the pot, you can see the numbers of how many quarts of materials you have in it. This amount of mixture is a generous "10" quarts without the vinegar added. You can see the number 10 halfway covered up by the relish mixture. When working with varying amounts of product for canning, the quantity being identified on the wall of the pot is a tremendous help in balancing the recipe. The stainless steel stock pot was given to me. I bought a lid from a restaurant supplier. The stainless steel lid alone was $24, but it was SO worth it in the long run. I have been using this pot for several years now and am very thankful to have it.

This is the end result of all the work on the relish project. Twenty three pints of wonderful green tomato relish!

This is the storage shelf with 159 jars of canned organic vegetables from the garden. Two jars are filled with home made beef jerky. The rest are pasta sauce, pizza sauce, salsa, tomato sauce, home made tomato soup, tomatoes, banana pepper mustard, green beans and of course, green tomato relish! More beef jerky and dried fruits will be added to this storage area. I will have to build another shelf to hold the additional jars.

For anyone interested in making this relish, here is the recipe. I found it online and have been using it for two years. As with all recipes, you can adjust the ingredient quantities to suit your tastes as you see fit.

Green Tomato Relish
Original Recipe Yield 12 pints
• 24 large green tomatoes
• 3 red bell peppers, halved and seeded
• 3 green bell peppers, halved and seeded
• 12 large onions
• 3 tablespoons celery seed
• 3 tablespoons mustard seed
• 1 tablespoon salt
• 5 cups white sugar
• 2 cups cider vinegar
1. In a grinder or food processor, coarsely grind tomatoes, red bell peppers, green bell peppers, and onions. (You may need to do this in batches.) Line a large colander with cheesecloth, place in sink or in a large bowl, and pour in tomato mixture to drain for 1 hour.
2. In a large, non-aluminum stockpot, combine tomato mixture, celery seed, mustard seed, salt, sugar, and vinegar. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Sterilize enough jars and lids to hold relish (12 one-pint jars, or 6 one-quart jars). Pack relish into sterilized jars, making sure there are no spaces or air pockets. Fill jars all the way to top. Screw on lids.
4. Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with boiling water. Carefully lower jars into pot using a holder. Leave a 2 inch space between jars. Pour in more boiling water if necessary, until tops of jars are covered by 2 inches of water. Bring water to a full boil, then cover and process for 30 minutes.
5. Remove jars from pot and place on cloth-covered or wood surface, several inches apart, until cool. Once cool, press top of each lid with finger, ensuring that seal is tight (lid does not move up or down at all). Relish can be stored for up to a year.

As always, thanks for visiting my blog. Remember, if you have questions or comments, feel free to send them to my email address:

Have a great gardening day!



  1. Great photos! My gosh, I feel like I'm right there! That looks like a super recipe as well!

  2. I'm glad that you appreciate the pics. I try to capture the process all the way through, because sometimes it's helpful to someone just starting out. Thanks for your comment!

  3. WOW, your shelf of jars is gorgeous.

  4. meemsnyc, Thanks! It was a lot of work, but it sure was worth it!

  5. I just trimmed my tomato plants and threw about 100 small (golf ball) sized tomatoes into the compost pile, on the vine. Soon my two children had picked them all off the vine and brought them into the house. I didn't want to disappoint them, they had been so industrious in picking them so I made green tomato relish. Great recipe, even better process pics!