apples+green tomatoes=gooey mincemeat

battered-applesI HAVE A CROP OF BATTERED-LOOKING APPLES and a lot of green tomatoes, and won’t be winning any prizes at the county fair with either harvest.  But where’s my old mincemeat recipe gone to, the one that uses large quantities of both? Easy: Just look for the cookbook with pages that are all smeared and tattered, as canning is a sticky affair.

Up here in the Hudson Valley/Berkshires area, where the apples come in fast in fall, I make applesauce as fast as I can to freeze. A batch of mincemeat sounds about right, too, especially from a recipe minus the traditional beef suet. This one’s vegetarian.

chutney2The recipe is from “Stocking Up II,” a Rodale cookbook of 1980s vintage that has since been reissued in a third version. The most-disfigured spread in my copy: the one with ‘Currant and Green Tomato Chutney,’ which uses loads of apples as well. If a waste-not, want-not mood seizes you in the not-too-distant future, here’s the recipe. (I figured you couldn’t read it from the splattered pages above.)

currant and green tomato chutney (aka mincemeat)

3 cups currants (or raisins)
4-1/2 cups finely chopped green tomatoes
4-1/2 cups peeled and finely chopped tart apples
2 lemons, seeded, quartered and sliced thin
2 cups minced onions
2 cloves garlic
½ cup honey
1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
2 Tablespoons mustard seed
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons ground ginger

Prepare ingredients as above, or put the tomatoes and apples through a meat grinder. Then combine all and simmer until fruit is soft (at least 20 minutes, probably more).  Pack into hot, scalded jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Seal and process for 5 minutes in a boiling-water bath.

The recipe yields enough chutney, which is recommended by the cookbook author (and me) as a substitute for mincemeat, to fill 6 one-pint jars. I also pack it in some larger ones for pie filling…but the pint size is perfect for spooning over a lot of bowls of vanilla ice cream. (Did somebody remember to make a batch of ginger snaps to go with that?)


  1. Cindy says:

    I don’t think I ever had mincemeat, vegetarian or otherwise.

    I had a bunch of battered apples as well. I just made a big batch of applesauce. Through a few pears in as well.

    We also had some grapes to harvest. Would have more if I had ten foot arms. They grow wild up in the trees you see. From them I made grape juice. Not enough to make jelly but enough for breakfast!

  2. Chez US says:

    This sounds great. What a fantastic idea, we have lots of green tomatoes that may never turn red.

    We did not get a chance to par-take this week, will be there next week!

  3. Willi @ DigginFood says:

    Thanks for this recipe! I’ve only picked two ripe tomatoes so far, so I think it’s going to come in handy!

    Luckily, we have had lots of blackberries. I’ve been making blackberry lemonade, smoothies, and baking with them.

    My favorite creation so far is a blackberry tart with honeyed mascarpone filling. It has a graham cracker crust, so it is super easy to make, but looks really elegant!

  4. margaret says:

    Welcome, Beti. I know the name is “chutney” but there are sweet chutneys and this is one. The recipe headnote in the book says “…can be used as a green tomato mincemeat pie filling.” And that’s what I have always done w/it (besides the ice cream topping improv, when I don’t want to bake a pie but want that holiday dessert flavor).
    Despite the onions and garlic and cayenne, the bulk ingredients are sweet (currants, apples, tomatoes, plus there’s honey) and it tastes like mincemeat pie filling. You would never believe the savory items were in there by the time it bubbles to a brown gooey mixture, and then gets processed. I think anything with three cups of currants or raisins it is going to come out pretty sweet!
    If you don’t like the degree of sweetness you can up the honey, but I never had to.
    Thanks for your comment, which prompted this clarification and a tweak to the copy in the post. See you soon again!

    @Tamra Forty-eight pounds? Oh, my. Do you can this or just use a batch at a time? Sounds so simple. And I have a pear tree whose fruit I have never used. Hmmm…

  5. Beti says:

    I’m confused. Is this mincemat or chutney? I didn’t think they were interchangable.

    I understand that in the old days, mincemeat was more of a main dish item, containing both meat and animal fat. These days, though, it is more recognizable as a dessert pie filling.

    To me, this recipe is chutney, and would be great with roasted meat, but not so fine on ice cream.

  6. Tamra says:

    All my fruit trees are too young to yield anything, however I have 48 pounds of pears from a neighbor’s tree. Lucky me to have such a generous neighbor. I am making pear preserves. It is very simple.

    4 cups chopped pears
    1 cup sugar
    2 teaspoon lemon juice

    Pour the sugar over the pears and let sit overnight to bring out the juices. Add the lemon juice to the pear sugar mixture and simmer until the juice is is the consistency of honey. Sometimes I add a pinch of cinnamon and a dash of vanilla. These are great on biscuits.

  7. Tamra says:

    Most of the pears are still too hard to use yet. Pears are unusual, in that you pick them hard and let the soften in storage. So I have some in the fridge, that I hope we can eat over the winter. I have just made one small experiment batch. But since it went well I plan on making a lot more and for canning. I have a friend making grape jelly and another making peach jam. I think we might do a little swapping.

  8. Kathy from Cold Climate Gardening says:

    Our tomatoes are ripening. Our apples haven’t, yet. (No mincemeat for us!) Berry season has gone and the berries are in the freezer. We love this Lemon Cornmeal Cake with any kind of berry, fresh or frozen, and prefer it over shortcake.

  9. Nancy says:

    Our family likes pear sauce better than applesauce, and it’s a great way to use up pears that are somewhat imperfect since the pear tree never gets sprayed. I’ve been picking and freezing all my blackberries, hoping to find time to make a big batch of the house special, blackberry jam. But my other favorite use for blackberries? Two words: Blackberry Martini.

  10. chris says:

    hang on, why not let those tomaties ripen?…annie says the sun’s coming out tomorrow…been told that if jack frost is nipping and you want to redden dem tomaties indoors, put them on a sunny shelf next to an apple, something about the apple ripening the tomatie somehow…even put them together into a paper bag over night to accentuate the process…ever hear about this?

  11. margaret says:

    @Chris: Yes, the apple thing works…they output ethylene gas, which ripens (and also rots, if you expose the wrong things to it) many other crops. And I will do this before frost…and try for every last red tomato I can get…but my crop has been so late in getting started, I am figuring to have some greenies left on the vine here for sure.

  12. commonweeder says:

    I never heard of an apple and green tomato chutney/mincemeat, but I use an old mincemeat recipe of Elsa Bakalar’s that uses green apples, lots of butter (no meat or animal fat) raisins, spices and a good amount of brandy. It lasts a long time in the fridge, ready to be popped into a pie or half moon tarts. It’s wonderful to think how many variations there are on the mincemeat/chutney theme.

  13. margaret says:

    Welcome, Nancy. Thanks for visiting. I found a blackberry martini recipe from The New York Times, for one. And here’s another version, from Absolut vodka (2 parts vodka to 1 part blackberry liqueur…easier, and I think you could dress up with the fruit…in lieu of olives!).

  14. Pam says:

    Hi Everyone!
    I have been making green tomatoe mincemeat for over 35 years. My husband’s aunt gave me the recipe when we were newly married and being scottish I couldn’t wait to try it. I put lots of rum and butter in it and the flavour is unbelievable. I also add candied lemon and orange peel that you would put in a fruit cake. I make tarts and pies with it at Christmas time and also my husband likes Matrimonial Squares made with mincemeat rather than the traditional date filling. Yum! Yum!

  15. Pam says:

    Here is my recipe:

    Green Tomato Mincemeat

    5 lb Green Tomatoes
    5 lb Apples
    1/2 pint Cider Vinegar
    3 lb Dark Brown Sugar
    1 lb Raisins
    1 lb Currants
    1 lb Mixed Citrus Peel (candied)
    1/2 lb Candied Lemon Peel
    1/2 tsp Salt
    1/2 tsp Cloves
    1/2 tsp Allspice
    1/2 tsp Nutmeg
    1/2 tsp Ginger
    1 tsp Cinnamon
    Peel of 1 orange and 1 lemon, also juice of both
    1/2 lb Butter
    1/2 Bottle of Dark Rum (optional)

    Wash and cut tomatoes into very small pieces. Put them in a large kettle and cook for 10 minutes. Drain. Cut apples (do not peel) into small pieces or chop coarsley in food processor. Add to tomatoes in large kettle. Add sugar, vinegar and boil slowly for 1/2 hour, stirring constantly. Add spices and remaining ingredients, cooking til thick (about 1 hour). Stir to prevent burning. Add butter and rum at the end, just before packing into jars and sealing.

  16. chigal says:

    I don’t believe it. Mincemeat is just chutney? Sorry for the snub, gramma (who is no longer with us). I took things very literally as a child.

  17. Beverly Burch says:

    I made 14 pints of your recipe today from my tomatoes and my mom-in-laws apples. It will make nice Christmas gifts for visiting family. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Margaret says:

      You are welcome, Beverly — it’s delicious, I know, and any year I have green tomatoes I look forward to it. Hope to see you again soon, and happy holidays.

  18. Terri H. says:

    Can the green tomato mincemeat be frozen instead of water-bath canned? (I don’t have the equipment & can’t afford it right now, but I have half a paper grocery bag of green tomatoes.) Thanks!

  19. Eileen says:

    Somewhere in the early 1980s I watched a friend’s chickens while she was out of town, and she gave me a gift of a jar of green tomato mincemeat with the label, “needs brandy”. It was made from the recipe in Putting Food By and it was fantastic.

    All these years later I have a windfall of apples and pears from trees that have never been sprayed, which means I must cut out lots of bug bites. I have made all the apple pies I can force on others, and I haven’t found many ways to use the pears (pear pie spiced like apple pie wasn’t a huge hit but the pears and dark chocolate baked into a coffee cake, or maybe scones, with no other flavoring except perhaps vanilla seems promising). I think green tomato mincemeat is the answer! I see mincemeat recipes that use both apples and pears. I think I will omit the lemon or orange peel and add that at baking time for a bit of extra-fresh flavor, since the oranges will be abundant later in the year.

    I love the way Margaret posts articles at exactly the right time of the year when they are the most useful.

  20. John P Franz says:

    French Canadians make “green chow chow” which is commonly used to side dress “tortiere”, a classic, regional meat pie. Commercial “chow chow” is in the super markets. With some mustard they are a wonderful combination. I believe chow-chow is made mainly of the green tomatoes at the end of the shorter Quebec summer.

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