Savory Spreads: Peppers and Plums

People have been making spreads with peppers and plums for a long time. Get jelly and chutney recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
People have been making pepper jellies for a long time. Some claim they’re Southern in origin, with roots in Texas and an official Pepper Jelly Festival in Alabama. They vary widely in color (from green to golden to red), spiciness (from sweet to jalapeno to habanero), and texture (from smooth jelly to marmalade-like spreads flecked with pepper pieces). But to ensure they store well on the shelf and in the fridge, all contain a lot of vinegar and sugar.

Although many recipes focus on the heat of chilies, I prefer a sweet bell pepper base with just a bit of heat mixed in. Many pepper jelly recipes also use commercial pectin and distilled vinegar, both of which are neutral in flavor. I prefer the depth added by fruit pectins and vinegars, so as with other savory spreads, I turn to tart apples to help the jelly set. Fresh lemon adds even more flavor and pectin.
Learn to make Sweet Pepper Jelly and Italian Plum–Apple Chutney

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Cabbage

I’ve been writing about enjoying and preserving green tomatoes this month, but they aren’t the only vegetables pulled from the garden as the season winds down. From the hoop house, I’m harvesting the last of the peppers. From the main garden, I’m snagging sweet carrots, a late seeding of cilantro, and the last cabbage.

After years of losing brassica crops to moths, I recently started growing cabbage again. The key is a small hoop frame straddling the bed, with ultrafine mesh netting clipped in place over the hoops and enclosed ends. Light and water can get in, but the plants stay cool and free of cabbage worms. It also means I’ve returned to making cabbage salad. The recipe I remember needed upgrades, primarily because it relied on instant noodles for crunch. I can’t recall what my mom served with the salad, but these days I’m hooked on a shrimp pairing.
Learn to make Asian Cabbage Salad and Wasabi-Marinated Shrimp

Processed Green Tomatoes

When I asked members of the Twice as Tasty Facebook group for recipes they’d like to see on the blog, green tomato requests poured in. I try to ripen my late-season tomatoes and eat the stubborn ones fresh, so my green tomato repertoire was limited. Perfecting long-term storage of green tomatoes called for experimentation, practice—and some unannounced taste testing at Twice as Tasty-catered events.

After sampling a range of pickled and fermented green tomatoes and salsa, sauce, relish, and chutney recipes, a few trends appeared. Pickled greenies are best stored in the refrigerator, where they never feel the heat of a boiling water bath and retain their shape and texture. Salsas could go either way. If you can’t create Grilled Tomatillo Salsa, you can process a green tomato salsa—but I prefer it fresh. In contrast, processing is ideal for a thick, rich chutney.
Learn to make Curried and Pickled Green Tomatoes and Green Tomato Chutney

Fresh Green Tomatoes

As the growing season slows, the primary complaint I hear is “but my tomatoes are still hard and green!” The lament is loudest in northwest Montana, where our growing season is about 90 days. Tomatoes need 50–100 days to mature, so it’s easy to see why so many green fruits remain on our vines as the first frost approaches. My solution, as I explained last week, is to let most remaining tomatoes ripen indoors. But I always set some green tomatoes aside to eat fresh.

What comes to mind when you think of eating a green tomato? For many, it’s a plate of breaded and fried slices. Although Fried Green Tomatoes aren’t as Southern as you might think, they are delicious, easy to make, and suitable just about any time of day. Your mind may also turn to a Mexican salsa verde. The traditional recipes—and to my palate, the tastiest versions—are made with tomatillos, but green tomatoes are suitable stand-ins.
Learn to make Fried Green Tomatoes and Fresh Green Tomato Salsa