I am ludricrously far behind in sharing recipes with you: there are at least 40 posts in my draft folder and it seems to grow daily. But, being a seasonal eater with a seasonal blog, it doesn’t make much sense for me to share a pickled garlic scape recipe with you in September, does it? Nor “strawberry jam: 10 tips for a good set.” And you might just have to wait ’til next year to hear about the probably-way-too-spicy-for-anyone-but-me blackberry orange chile preserves. But plums, bless their little hearts, will be with us for a few weeks yet. And apples are just hitting their stride here in the Hudson Valley. So it feels safe to tell you about my latest chutney: red plums, Ginger Gold apples and some basic chutney magic.
I love this basic chutney recipe from Leda Meredith: it’s so easily adaptable to what’s on hand, can be made with mostly, or entirely, local ingredients, and can easily be doubled, for a giant batch, or halved, for a small batch, perfect for using up those odds & ends of fruit, slowly growing soft on the countertop, that don’t quite make up a batch of anything by themselves. I also love the human measurements: 4 lbs of fruit, not “20 cups,” (Why does the Ball book do that? It’s so hard to judge. Makes me crazy.) and realistic instructions, like simmer for 1 – 2 hours until thickened (again, unlike the Ball book, which always seems to think chutney cooks in 15 minutes. Um, no.)
Cooking is so much more fun with a good, reliable recipe. This chutney was a breeze: a few leftover plums, a couple of apples from the fridge; some crystallized ginger, a handful of raisins. I let it simmer on very low heat, in a heavy Dutch oven, so it required almost no stirring, and just sat there, bubbling away and filling the house with spicy smells of Fall, until it was done. Popped into jars and stored in the pantry, it turned a few leftover ingredients, that may have been destined for the compost pile (or the deer in the backyard) into a last-minute lunch, a jazzed-up cheese tray, a thoughtful hostess gift or simply a reminder of autumn in the deep dark days of February. Brilliant.
Adapted from Basic Chutney by Leda Meredith of Leda’s Urban Homestead
- 1 lb plums, pitted and chopped, unpeeled
- 1 lb crisp apples, cored and chopped, unpeeled (I used Ginger Gold)
- 1 cup cider vinegar, at least 5% acidity
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 of a medium yellow onion, diced
- 1/4 cup crystallized ginger
- about 1 tbsp minced chile pepper (I used 4 tiny pequin peppers and an orange jalapeno)
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp mustard seed
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- Combine all ingredients in a wide, heavy stockpot or Dutch oven. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 1 hour. To procrastinate, you can store the chopped fruit in the vinegar and honey for several days in the fridge. Weight with an inverted plate to keep fruit under the vinegar and prevent browning.
- Meanwhile, prepare canner, lids and jars. Pack hot chutney into hot jars to 1/2-inch headspace; bubble jars, wipe rims, affix lids and process either pint or half-pint jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
Yields about 4 cups.
- I love Leda’s recipe because it is so flexible: you can switch out the fresh fruit, the dried fruit, the spices. You can double or even triple the batch. You can use up those odds & ends of fruit: 2/3 lb here, 3/4 lb there. Toss in a green tomato or two. With high-acid ingredients, there is a lot of room for experimentation.
- To make this recipe completely local, you can use home-dried local fruit, your own cider vinegar (make sure you test the acidity), source some wild ginger, and forage for wild mustard seeds!
Canned, store in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year. Refrigerated, use within 1 month.
Late summer to early fall.