The courgette and tomato plants on my balcony garden are looking waif-like as another summer fades away. The resident squirrel and blackbird haven’t been seen in weeks and slugs are taking over. My patch of green is just one of 3.8 million individual gardens in London, probably all feeling a bit dour at this time of year.
Despite looking haggard, the tomato plant has held on to some of its tough little green fruits. It struggled to find the juice to ripen them all – the British summer is sometimes a little too feeble – but these green ones are far from dead. I made use of them by concocting my first batch of urban green tomato chutney.
People have been preserving fruits for thousands of years. The first recipe for jam appears in a 2,000-year-old cookbook called De Re Coquinaria (The Art of Cooking). It was soft fruit heated with sugar – exactly how we continue to do it today. Chutney, which is basically a spicy sort of jam, is believed to come from India. My four handfuls of green tomatoes came to 500g and made three (delicious) pots of chutney.
I followed this very simple recipe.
Considering 24 per cent of greater London is made up of gardens we must have a decent autumn bounty. Send me pictures of your preserves by tagging #rewildinglondon. Remember to plant next year’s tomatoes in March or April.