November 2013: The Canadian Harvest in Ontario

I took the dog out for a walk yesterday as I do every day. We are fortunate that we live in an area of the city where we are only 5 minutes away from great paths through the forests which are perfect for her. I have been able to watch the changing of the seasons on my daily walks. In the spring you get to watch with excitement as the young buds begin to poke their way up through the dead leaves and everything begins to peel back the brown and become vibrant green once again.

In the summer each week seemed to produce a different flower in bloom and countless types of birds tweeting, chirping and fluttering through the trees.

And now fall has arrived and the leaves are changing colour and falling back down to the earth to start the cycle all over again.

I put my vegetable garden to bed last weekend. It was a great year for my garden. The cucumbers and green beans went absolutely wild and I could barely preserve fast enough before it was time to go outside and pick some more. Lettuce, arugula, sorrel and rocket grew like weeds and in such quantities that the few rabbits in our backyard could do little to spoil our harvest, although they certainly tried. I made pesto from the basil, hung lavender and sage to dry in the kitchen, pickled the cucumbers and crunched on the carrots. I never wanted it to end.

Our 12 tomato plants grew heavy with the weight of tomatoes in late September but sadly their season started too late so we ended up with a lot of tomatoes that stayed green right up until the first frost. In previous years, I have always picked the green tomatoes and simply added them to the compost. But last year this changed. I couldn't bring myself to compost all of these beautiful tomatoes and so my experimenting in the kitchen began.


I dug out my husband's grandmother's recipe for pickled green tomatoes and made a batch. I adapted that recipe and made another batch. But then I stumbled on green tomato gold - a recipe for green tomato salsa. After reviewing the recipe I decided right off the start to make a few changes. First off, if this was going to keep me warm through the winter months it needed to be spicier. So I got to work and I think if you get to work with this recipe you will not be disappointed.

Green Tomato Salsa (adapted from

5 lbs green tomatoes, chopped small
4 cups chopped yellow onions
1 cup jalapenos, chopped with seeds
3 large red bell peppers, chopped small
8 large garlic cloves, minced or chopped small
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup lime juice
1/2 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
2 teaspoons pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 -2 teaspoon sugar
Combine all ingredients in a large pot, stirring to mix well. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally until you reach desired consistency.

Bring salsa to a rolling boil.

Ladle salsa into hot sterile jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe lids and jar edges clean before finger tightening lids and placing them back in the hot water bath. Process (boil) jars for 15 minutes.

Splendid Green Tomato Salsa

I knew something had to be done about the current situation, but I was paralyzed with indecision. There had to be over 30 of them, just hanging there practically staring at me. What were we thinking when we opened that seed package back in the spring? We could have stopped with 10, but I think we were both still feeling the leftover effects of our tremendous failure from last year. We thought, what was the worst thing that could happen and we tipped the contents from the package into our hands and began to plant.

You see last year was our first attempt at growing tomato plants from seed. The first batch we made the fatal error of having the lights too far away and our plants were stringy and pitiful. So we dumped those and tried again. This time, our lighting was perfect, but still something went wrong and they got some terrible fungus. Let’s just say there wasn’t a happy ending with that round either.

So this spring, we went and got seeds for 3 different types of tomatoes (roma, cherry and beefsteak). We were using our success rate from last year as our measuring stick for success and decided to plant 8 plants of each assuming we would lose 50% of them.

 Well we didn’t. We lost 3 plants in total. The rest did just what we had hoped would happen. They weren’t stringy and they didn’t get a fungus. So what did we do? We planted all 21 of them. Do you have any idea how many tomatoes 21 tomato plants produce? I am not complaining…in fact I love it and I would change very little about the number of tomatoes I would plant next year. I have had the most delicious cherry tomatoes in my salads, some are frozen in my deep freeze, I shared some with my neighbours and made the rest into jam.


But it is September and there are still a lot of tomatoes on the plants in my yard. Green Tomatoes – and I was at a loss as to what to do with them. I found myself standing in the garden looking at them and hoping for inspiration. None came.

So I did what any social media savvy person would do, I put a call out on twitter asking for suggestions.

I received a fabulous fried green tomato suggestion from someone as well as Green Tomato Pickle and the offer for the family recipe, which I thought was fabulous. But the suggestion that piqued my interest was for Green Tomato Salsa. They even included the specific recipe they would like me to use.

How could I refuse a request as specific as that? I changed a few small things. I added more jalapeno’s because I prefer my salsa on the spicier side. I only used 3 red peppers, used 8 garlic cloves and ½ tsp cayenne pepper. The rest I followed exactly as outlined and the result is delicious. Slightly tart, somewhat spicy with almost an earthy flavour. The great thing about this recipe and I am speaking personally and it might be grounded in my intrinsically selfish side is the YIELD! I got 12, 250ml jars from one batch.

 I have put aside a jar for you Nolin seeing as the request was yours. Come and get it!

 There are still plenty of green tomatoes awaiting a home, so if you provide me with the inspiration, I will provide you with a jar of the final product.