That's some wisdom my grandma laid down on me when I was a kid.
I am old enough that my grandma was a kid herself during the tail end of the depression, both she and my grandpa were fortunate to live in rural areas with families that were able to grow a lot of their own food.
My grandma was a very elegant lady, and an excellent and adventurous cook, to boot. I wish I could say I learned to do canning at her apron string, but I did not. But I did internalize some of her thrift, and even though my garden is a tiny four by four box compared to her sprawling suburban backyard victory garden, I still hate to throw out veggies.
My tomato plants exploded everywhere this year, my garden box looked like a jungle. When it got chilly for the first time last weekend, I figured it was time to pull them up. It turns out they were not just making a couple of last minute tomatoes, they were full of them.
So I saved them all to make something with. I considered pickled green tomatoes, but decided on green tomato relish instead. I used a sort of modified recipe for Chef Hugh Acheson's chow chow, because I love the balance of flavors in that one.
If chopping fruits and veggies is your zen place like it is mine, making chow chow and relish is a great project. This one had all my little greenies, but I also had some vidalia onions, celery and a bunch of various peppers my neighbor gave me from her CSA farm box.
It took longer to chop everything up than it did to get it canned, honestly. I'm used to it taking days and hours to make a batch of jam, so this was a nice change of pace.
What would you do with something like this? Green tomato relish isn't really something you'd find on every table. It's just a good, all purpose kind of condiment. My go-to is just to spoon it onto a pork chop or piece of grilled chicken, but it would also be super on a fancy hot dog. How about a little spoonful on cheese and crackers? If you're a veggie or vegan, meat isn't a requirement. I think it would be delightful in a big bowl of beans and rice. It's kind of saucy, you could use it as a sauce with sauteed zucchini or yellow squash. Sweet potatoes? Yes, please! Just use your imagination.
I will be sharing this little bounty as gifts for friends and family — which is exactly why I started making jam and other preserved goods in the first place.