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Friday, October 26, 2012

Green Tomato Mincemeat

Homemade mincemeat? Doesn't sound especially frugal, fast, or fun, but this one meets at least two of the three criteria for this blog. It isn't especially fast, though it doesn't take as much time as it may sound, and one batch (or maybe two if you have lots of green tomatoes) will provide plenty for a season of baking. If you have tomatoes salvaged from that first killing frost, and maybe even some windfall apples at a bargain rate from the orchard, this will be much less expensive than purchased mincemeat. And the fun can come from being able to make something from America's past, a real heritage recipe. Home-schoolers working on history lessons from the last couple of hundred years might find this a fun project to try too.

If you do a search for green tomato mincemeat, you will find many recipes that do not take the extra step of steeping the tomatoes. While there is no doubt some loss of vitamins in this method, you will find that this approach results in a far more "traditional" flavor, without a hint of "green tomato."

Oh, and despite the name, this is a totally vegan recipe, and very low fat as well.   

From this:

 To this:

 

Green Tomato Mincemeat

4 lb ground green tomatoes
4 lb ground apples (unpeeled, preferably mixed varieties)
12 oz (2 c or so) raisins--if you like a more raisin-y flavor, add up to another cup or so
1/2 lb. brown sugar
2 3/4 c white sugar
1 1/2 t salt
1/2 c plus 2 T cider vinegar
1 1/2 c strong coffee
2 t cinnamon
3/4 t cloves
3/4 t nutmeg

(NOTE:  Beause of the high acidity of the tomatoes, do not use aluminum or cast iron pans for this recipe.)

1.  Put at least 3 quarts of water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Use the pot that you will ultimately be cooking the mince meat in, to reduce dishwashing. 

2.  Cut the tomatoes in chunks and press through the grating blade of a food processor.
(NOTE: IF you still have an old-fashioned meat grinder, you can use that instead of a food processor.)

3.  Turn the ground tomatoes into a large bowl and pour boiling water over, just to cover. Add to the water in the pan and allow it to return to a boil.

4.  After 5 minutes of steeping in the hot water, pour the tomatoes into a colander and drain. Return to the large bowl and again cover with boiling water. Allow to sit for another five minutes, drain, and repeat the steeping and draining one more time.


5.  Meanwhile, quarter and core the apples, cutting out any spots but leaving the peeling on. Put these through the grating blade of the processor along with the raisins.










6.  Put the drained tomatoes, apples, and raisins in the large pot and add the remaining ingredients. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer 20 to 30 minutes, stirring often to avoid sticking.

 


7.  To finish cooking:

A) Place in a 6 quart slow cooker with the cover slightly ajar. (As shown in the photo, just place a wood spoon under the cover.) Cook on low for several hours or overnight, stirring down occasionally.  After a few hours, taste and add more sugar if needed--the green-ness of the tomatoes and tartness of the apples will affect how much sugar you ultimately need.

OR
B)  Place the uncovered pot in a 300 degree oven and continue to cook, stirring every half hour or so, scraping down the sides as you do. After an hour or so, taste and add more sugar if needed.

OR
C)  You can continue to cook the mixture on top of the stove. Turn the heat to low, leave the pot uncovered, and stir often to avoid sticking. Taste for sweetness as above. 

8.  With any of these methods, continue to cook until the mixture is the thickness you desire. Long, slow, cooking will gradually caramelize the apples, deepen the spices, and in general, make for a very rich, full-flavored mixture.

9.  Cool and refrigerate or freeze in pie-sized portions--about 3 to 4 cups each. This amount should make enough for 3 to 5 pies. You may also want to freeze some in 1 or 2 cup portions for other recipes.

Beside pie filling, this makes an excellent yeast coffee cake filling, and I will soon be including a bar cookie that features mincemeat as well.



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