Friday, 15 August 2008

Ontario Chutney

Chutney (or chatni, a more accurate transliteration) refers to a variety of Indian condiments; usually intensely flavoured thick sauces, but they can also be thin, or even dry; occasionally smooth but generally fairly chunky. They often have a bit of sweetness to them. This idea got taken back to Britain, and by Victorian times chutney was firmly established there as a kind of thick, spiced jam to be eaten with meat, possibly curried, for a value of curry also defined by British imperialism.

The idea of chutney as a preserve is one that makes a lot of sense in a northern climate; our fresh fruits and vegetables just aren't around for all that long. Here I have taken inspiration from several recipes for English-style mango chutney - although I think one of them may have staggered through the Caribbean and picked up a little extra spicing - and then I swapped out all the exotic southern fruits for exotic northern fruits. Good stuff.

I ended up with rather a lot of chutney; you could cut it in half quite easily I would think. In which case it will likely not take 45 minutes to thicken up. No problem; turn it off when it's thick, and bring it back up to a boil just before you are ready to can it.

10 250-ml jars
2 hours - 1 hour prep, 1 hour canning

The Chutney iIngredients in the Pot
The chutney ready to start cooking.

The Chutney Waiting to be Sealed
The jars of chutney ready to be sealed, above; and the finished jars of chutney, below.

The Finished Jars of Chutney
1 1/2 cups apple butter
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
2 cups Sucanat
2 cups dried cranberries
2 tablespoons pickling salt
1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seed, ground
1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seed, ground
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

1 to 3 fresh cayenne peppers
1 cup peeled, minced fresh ginger (about 200 grams/ 1/2 pound)
4 mild green peppers
3 quarts peaches, a little on the unripe side
OR a combination of peaches and apricots

Into a large canning kettle put the apple butter, vinegar, Sucanat, cranberries, salt and prepared spices.

Peel the ginger and trim the stems from the cayenne. Mince them finely - a food processor is the best way. Add them to the kettle. The seeds from the cayenne chiles will add a lot of heat; it is your choice to leave them in or remove them, along with the stems. I left mine in, and I used 3 of them. My impression is that my chutney is pretty hot; you may wish to adjust accordingly.

Put a large pot of water on to boil to blanch the peaches. Fill a large bowl or the sink with cold water.

Wash the mild green peppers, core them, and chop them. Add them to the kettle.

Blanch the peaches by dropping them into the boiling water (in batches) for a minute to a minute and a half each. Remove them to a bowl or sink full of cold water to cool. When cool enough to handle, pull off the skin (it should come right off) and chop them coarsely, discarding the pits. Add them to the kettle. If you are using apricots, don't bother to skin them.

Put the kettle on to come up to a boil. While it heats, put the jars into a canner with water to cover them by at least an inch. Set that on to come up to a boil, and boil the jars for 10 minutes. Total time is likely to be about 45 minutes. Add a shot of vinegar to the water if you have hard water.

Meanwhile, boil the chutney, stirring frequently, until thickened. Conveniently, that should be about 45 minutes.

Put the lids and rings into another pot, with water to cover. About 5 minutes before you are ready to remove the jars from the canner and start filling them, turn the heat on for the lids and rings, and boil them for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove the jars from the canner. Empty the water from half of them back into the canner, and empty the other half into the sink.

Fill the jars with the hot chutney, using a sterilized ladle (put it in the top of the canner for a few minutes; the funnel too, if you are using one.) Wipe the rims of the jars with a paper towel dipped in the boiling water. Seal with the prepared lids and rings. They should be on firmly, but don't wrench them - they need to expand and contract as they seal. Put the jars back into the boiling water in the canner, and process for 10 minutes. Allow to cool, check for seals, and label.

Last year at this time I Roasted an Organic Chicken and made Cole Slaw with Lime-Celery Seed Dressing.

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