Green Tomato "Molasses"

Aaron Owens

This recipe for Green Tomato “Molasses” comes from a co-worker of my grandfather’s at the Clinchfield Coal Company in Dickenson County, Virginia.  There my grandfather would eat lunch with other miners and tell stories.  The recipe dates from the 1970s.  As his friend was telling the story of the recipe, most laughed, but my grandfather tried it.  Our family had never heard of the mysterious recipe until then. 

My grandfather and his brother John soon began experimenting with the recipe that was given to him, and it proved to be a major success.  The Honaker family began planting rows of tomatoes to make the “molasses” each year, and it was eaten at family reunions on warm butter biscuits and over homemade vanilla ice cream.  Pints were stowed away on fishing trips down on the river, and at the swimming hole.  However, as our family grew older, the “molasses” stopped being produced.  The gardens were no longer dominated by rows of tomatoes, and the cellars became bare.  But the recipe was rediscovered a couple of years ago, and the tradition has begun anew.  Our gardens are planted with rows of Celebrity and Pineapple tomatoes once again.  Jars of the “molasses” are once again stowed away on fishing trips and hikes into the mountains.  Our cellars are overflowing with jars of it. 

1 peck green tomatoes

5 pounds sugar

Quarter the tomatoes and layer them with sugar in a pot.  Mash until tomatoes and sugar are well mixed and liquid is beginning to form.  Cover and let sit overnight.  Strain mixture through cheesecloth into a new pot, making sure to get all the seeds and peelings out.  Heat on medium-high, stirring occasionally and making sure the bottom doesn’t scorch.  Skim any foam off the top.  Cook until liquid changes from green and thin to brown and thick, about 3 hours.  Follow normal procedure for canning.  Makes 3 pints.