Introduction: Gran's Green Tomato Chutney

My gran's been making this wonderfully tangy and sweet green tomato chutney for as long as I can remember. It's fantastic as a relish in a burger or just with cheese and biscuits.

It's a brilliant way to use up unripe tomatoes if the weather (like this year) hasn't been great for them. I picked 5kg of green tomatoes from my allotment as they were starting to get blight then made two batches of this stuff. Some will be saved for Christmas presents and some will get eaten over the year.

Step 1: Ingredients


  • 2.5kg green tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 0.5kg onions, finely sliced
  • 4 tsp / 30g salt
  • 1L malt vinegar
  • 0.5kg soft light brown sugar
  • 250g sultanas, roughly chopped
  • 3 tsp / 20g ground pepper


  • Preserving pan or other large lidless pan. I prefer a 10 L stainless stock pot.
  • 7 - 10 jars with lids
  • Food wrap / cling film
  • Sticky labels
  • I find a jam funnel really useful. Especially for larger bits of tomato.

Approximate cost: 2.5 GBP per batch (if you grew the tomatoes).

Step 2: Prepare

Finely slice your onions and washed green tomatoes, cutting out any bad bits. Add to a large bowl and stir. Add the 4 teaspoons of salt, stir again and then cover with food wrap or a large plate and leave overnight.

This will draw out lots of the tomato juices and help enhance the flavours. This step can be skipped if you don't want to leave it overnight, just reduce the salt by half.

I thoroughly recommend doing this step as it will reduce the time you need to cook your chutney for. Much of the cooking time is just reducing the liquid down so it's a thick enough consistency for chutney.

Step 3: Heat the Vinegar, Add the Sugar.

The next day...

Place the litre of vinegar into a large pan. Add the 500g of light brown soft sugar and stir over a medium heat until all the sugar has dissolved.

Bring to the boil.

Step 4: Sultanas

Roughly chop the sultanas then add to the simmering vinegar and sugar. Bring the whole lot to a gentle boil.

Step 5: Drain and Add the Tomatoes and Onions

Remove the cover from the tomatoes and onions that you've left overnight. Drain well but do not rinse. Rinsing will add more water and the goal of leaving overnight with salt was to remove as much water as possible without pulping them.

Add to the chutney and stir in well. Add the 3 teaspoons / 15g white pepper.

Bring to a gentle boil.

Step 6: Cooking Time

Once all the ingredients have been added they need to be boiled gently for 1.5 to 2 hours until thick and golden. The goal of this cooking time is to reduce the liquid down so the chutney's thick and to soften the tomatoes and onions until they take on the sugar and turn brown.

All you're doing for the next 1 - 2 hours is stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat if they start to boil too vigorously.

You might as well get your jars ready now!

Step 7: Preparing Your Jars

Wash your jars and lids well in hot water. I used jars I'd saved from sauces and jams and scrounged from friends.

Place them in an oven preheated to 140 degrees Celcius (280 Fahrenheit).

This will dry and sterilise them.

Step 8: Is It Ready Yet???

When your chutney has reduced by almost half and is thick and golden brown, it is almost ready. Boil it a little longer, I'm almost certain you'll be as impatient as I am and need to leave it just a tiny bit longer. I found a good gauge of it being thick enough was when I could drag my wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan and see the bottom for a little while after it had passed. When that happens, it's ready.

Remove your sterilised jars from the oven and place on newspaper. At this point I realised I didn't have any newspaper so I used chopping boards. Regardless, make sure you have something covering your work surfaces to make it easier to clean up, bottling the chutney will make a fair bit of mess.

Holding the hot jars in an oven mitt in one hand, spoon the chutney into the jars with the other. When full give them a quick tap on the bottom against the work surface to knock out any air bubbles then fill the next jar.

When all your jars are full place a double layer of cling film or food wrap across the top of each jar and then trim around it. As the chutney cools the air below the wrap will contract, sucking the cling film down against the surface, protecting it further from mould. You can see the concave shape of the wrap in the pictures.

Step 9: Labelling and Topping Off

While the jars cool, write some labels showing the date, content and maker.

Once cool, add the lids and stick on the labels. You can start eating the chutney right away, or leave it to mature for one or two weeks. I couldn't wait so had some warm with cheese and biscuits. Mmmmmm.

The finished chutney, if preserved well, should keep for six months or more. Last week I opened a jar my gran gave me the previous Christmas (9 months) and it was still fine.