A proper chutney

Posted by Anita on 11.19.10 12:41 PM

The Cosmic Cowgirl picked pomes — that’s apples, pears, and quinces to you and me — as the theme of this month’s CanJam. As I dreamed of making mebrillo, pear butter, and dozens of other suitable recipes, I sat at the window overlooking our garden, still groaning with tomatoes. They’re ripening slowly now, and it’s time to plant our winter crops; a green tomato preserve was what I really needed to tackle before I gave any thought to recreational canning.

As interesting as it seemed, we never made much of a dent in the green tomato jam I made around this time last year. It’s finally dawning on me that our capacity for sweet preserves is fairly limited, so I knew this year’s project would have to be savory. I hit the books, and came up with a few ideas for pickles and such, but nothing that really made me want to pull out the canner. Then, while browsing on a completely unrelated topic, I serendipitously encountered a recipe for a green tomato and apple chutney. Voilá — two birds, one stone.

I love a nice, tidy solution, but experience has taught me that my effort’s wasted if I preserve something nobody wants to eat. That won’t be a problem this year: Barely an hour after the lids went ‘ping!’, we’d already polished off one small jar of this piquant preserve, slathered on good brown bread with hunks of aged cheddar to make a thoroughly autumnal ploughman’s lunch. A few days later, we cracked another jar and gobbled up a good share of it alongside an Indian curry. And just last night, Cameron sighed as he wondered aloud how well it would go alongside the Thanksgiving turkey, in place of the cranberry sauce that neither of us really craves.

I find myself in the odd position of hoping that the weather turns cold soon, so that the last of this year’s tomatoes won’t ripen and I’ll have another batch of green fruit to transform into chutney. If not, at least I know what I’ll be doing with the tail end of next year’s crop.

English-style Spicy Green Tomato & Apple Chutney
- adapted from BBC Food

1/2 oz fresh ginger (about a 2-inch piece)
8 to 10 fresh hot chiles, halved but not seeded
4 pounds green tomatoes, chopped
1 pound apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
4 oz golden raisins, chopped, or dried currants (or half of each)
1 pound shallots, chopped
2 tsp kosher salt
1 pound raw sugar or light brown sugar
1 pint malt vinegar

Prepare canner, lids, and nine 8-oz jars according to the usual method; keep jars hot until needed.

Bruise the ginger and tie it into a muslin jelly bag with the chiles.

Place jelly bag and the remaining ingredients in a Dutch oven or other large, wide pan. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, and simmer until the desired consistency is reached, about an hour depending on simmering speed, stirring occasionally at first but more often as you come closer to the end.

Remove the jelly bag. Using a stainless-steel canning funnel, ladle the chutney into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles using a plastic knife or chopstick, and readjust headspace as needed. Wipe jar rims with a clean, damp cloth and center the hot lids on jars. Screw band to fingertip-tight.

Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely submerged. Bring to a boil and process covered for 15 minutes. Remove canner lid; wait 5 minutes, then remove jars. Cool thoroughly, check for seals, and store in a cool, dark place for up to a year.

CanJam, locavore, preserving & infusing, recipes