Introduction: Green Tomato Preserves

This is an attempt to recreate an old recipe used by my girlfriend's grandmother for green tomato preserves. The recipe could not be obtained from said grandmother because she simply cooks everything until it "looks right". We based our recipe on whatever my girlfriend could remember from her childhood and some other sources around the internet.

This is a preserve that most people (including myself before today) don't know much about. Even the guy we bought the tomatoes from asked "You can make preserves from those?"

Step 1: Collect and Chop Ingredients

Unfortunately, we didn't start taking photos until after we had chopped the tomatoes and lemons, so photos from that step are missing.

Here are the ingredients we came up with:

8.5 lbs green tomatoes
8 lemons
5 lbs sugar

To prepare the tomatoes, remove the stem and chop them into reasonable sized chunks, maybe 8-12 pieces per tomato depending on the size.

To prepare the lemons, slice into wedges and remove the seeds. Do not remove the peel (it's the best part!) Chop the lemons into 1/2 long strips.

To prepare the sugar, open the bag.

Don't forget the to pick up some cans. We went with a dozen pint jars which ended up being more than enough.

Step 2: Add Sugar

Add the sugar to the tomatoes and lemons and stir until the sugar dissolves. Let this sit for a few hours.

Step 3: Boil!

Boil the tomato-lemon mixture for a while (it took us 3 hours). You're looking for the tomato chunks and lemon rinds to completely break down. The liquid should become very dark green. Stir the mixture frequently to prevent any burning.

Step 4: Can

This step follows standard canning procedure for preserves or other jellies.

1. Clean the jars and working utensils thoroughly by boiling them for several minutes. Instructions on the box said to keep the jars in 180 degree water until you were ready to use them, but since we were running out of stove top space I put the cleaned jars in a 180 degree oven.

2. Put the jar lids in hot (not boiling) water. I kept it at about 180 degrees. If you boil the lids you will melt the sealing compound off the rim.

3. Fill the jars with preserves up to about 1/4 inch below the rim. Clean any spilled preserves from the rim or sides of the jar. Place a lid on top and screw on a ring until just finger tight. It's a good idea to have several towels or hot pads ready for this step, as every item you're working with is very hot.

4. Process the jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. Process is just the fancy canning word for putting the jars in several inches of boiling water.

Step 5: Cool and Seal

After the jars are done processing, let them cool, waiting anxiously to hear each lid pop. In case you're new to canning, what you want is for the small airspace in the top of the jar to cool and contract, sucking down the center of the lid. This forms an airtight "vacuum" seal, and keeps any bacteria from invading. If you have a jar that doesn't seal correctly, just pop that one in the fridge and eat it first before any bugs have a chance to catch hold.