I have to admit that when this month’s Can Jam ingredient was announced as carrots, I was a little… uninspired. While I applaud the choice as a “stretch” goal, I just wasn’t that excited about my BWB carrot canning possibilities. Not that I don’t like carrots, I do, but they are a low-acid food and we all know that I’m no friend of the pickle. There are some carrot marmalade and jam recipes out there, but in many of them carrot seems to be more of a bit player than a star attraction; besides, we were drowning in marmalde for last month’s Can Jam. What’s a carrot-canning girl to do?
It has never occured to me to can carrots. They seem to last virtually forever in a root cellar or the refrigerator and if I ever did have some massive amount of carrots that I needed to preserve, I would probably make a big batch of chicken or veggie soup and freeze it. But, suppose I lived in Laura Ingalls’ time and I had to preserve carrots? Suppose I live in a Peace Corps tent in Zimbabwe and I’ve got to put up the carrot harvest? (Do they even grow carrots in Zimbabwe? Google says they do!) Suppose I’m a food blogger who has commited to a Can Jam Challenge and will not be defeated (are you hearing the Rocky theme in the background? Because I am.) Ahem. So, on to the carrot recipe.
I searched and searched. I looked in my various preserving cookbooks: the Ball book, Fannie Farmer, Gourmet Preserves, Putting By. I scoured the Interwebs (and found a lot of scarily imprecise recipes). I briefly contemplated making Tigress’ carrot coconut mutney (charmalade?) but that felt like cheating. I couldn’t find anything that spoke to me. And I think I was bitter: here I had all these apples, leftover from apple picking in October, getting all wrinkly and sad in my fridge, and I had to worry about canning the perfectly good, non-wrinkly carrots from the farmer’s market. Harumph. And then I thought… huh. Apples. Carrots. Surely there must be a way to make these two great tastes taste great together (aside from walking down the street brandishing a jar of applesauce and a carrot. That’s just asking for trouble in NYC). Since I couldn’t find any carrot-apple recipes that thrilled me, I started looking for recipes where I could swap apples in (or carrots in) safely and tastily.
Eureka! Carrot Pepper Salsa in the never-fails-me Ball book was the answer. Swap in apples for tomatoes (pH-safe because apples are more acidic than tomatoes), chop them well to deal with any texture/heat penetration issues (tomatoes are less dense than apples), add some apple cider (even more acid, and tomatoes are juicier than apples) and Houston, we have a go. The result is a seriously spicy, seriously delicious chutney-salsaesque condiment (chalsa? saltney?) that I envision with sharp cheddar cheese, in a turkey sandwich, or baked on chicken or pork. Yum. Thanks, Can Jam, for stretching my limits. I’m off to eat me some chutsa.
Want more carrot canning ideas? Check out the February Can Jam round up over at Tigress in a Pickle.
Adapted from Carrot Pepper Salsa in The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, J. Kingry & L. Devine, eds.
Apple Carrot Chile Chutney
- 1 and 1/2 cups cider vinegar (5% acidity)
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1/2 cup apple pectin stock (optional)
- 6 cups (about 2 lbs) peeled, cored, chopped apples
- 3 cups (about 1 lb) peeled grated carrots
- 1/2 cup (2 and 1/2 oz) finely chopped red onion
- 1/2 cup (3 oz) minced chile peppers (jalapeno, serrano, habanero), seeded, or not, to your tastes (fresh or frozen)
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
- 2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
- Measure vinegar, apple cider and apple pectin stock into a large stockpot. Wash, peel, core and dice apples, tossing in the vinegar as you go, to prevent browning. Wash, peel and grate the carrots (I use the food processor) and add to the stockpot. Add onion, chile peppers, honey, sugar, salt and pepper.
- Bring to a boil over high heat, stir, then reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings; add the optional lemon juice now if the chutney seems to need a little oomph (the lemon juice is not necessary for the recipe to be safely acidic; the vinegar takes care of that).
- Meanwhile, prepare canner, jars and lids.
- Ladle hot chutney into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rim, afix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
Yields about 4 and 1/2 pints.
- You can substitute 1/2 cup of brown sugar for the 1/2 cup honey; you’ll get a darker brown color and a slightly thicker texture, but I always like the flavor of honey with hot chile peppers. Your call.
- This is very (deliciously) spicy. I wouldn’t quite call it “flaming” but possibly because the honey mellows it a bit. If you’re the one always reaching for the hot salsa, Tabasco, and ordering “extra pickled jalapenos, please” this one’s for you. If not, perhaps try 1/4 cup of chile peppers. You can safely decrease any of the non-acidic ingredients in the recipe.
- This recipe can be 100% local without the sugar and lemon. You can substitute additional honey for the brown sugar; I added the sugar about haflway through the cooking time because the chutney was not thickening well, and it was rather an unpleasant color. The brown sugar gave the chutney a deeper color and a bit more texture. The lemon was simply a last minute adjustment to brighten up the flavors and can be omitted if you are cooking strictly locally.
- Yes, I completely stole the idea for these labels from Lelo over at Lelo in Nopo. While I like how they came out, they took me an embarrassingly long time to do (control-freak-perfectionist that I am). I probably should have just popped the $6 and bought some at Lelo’s Etsy shop. Check it out!
Canned, in a cool dark spot, for up to 1 year. Flavors will blend and mellow if you allow to sit at least 2 – 3 weeks before using.
Apples are at farmer’s markets from Fall through late Winter. Carrots are generally available at markets all year long.