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.
Thanks heaven – an actual recipe that I can use AND that sounds tasty! Thank you, thank you – from about 100 miles or so north of you…
What would be a good substitution for crystallized ginger? Ginger and I have a hate-hate relationship. 🙂
I know how it goes. 🙂 You can just leave the ginger out, or can replace it with dried fruit of any kind. Assuming you’ll leave the ground ginger out as well, you may want to add something with a little spice: a cinnamon stick or two, during the cooking stage, but plucked out before canning, or a spice-bag of star anise and whole cloves, would add a nice bit of spice without totally changing the flavor profile.
Awesome, thanks! one more question, I’m a newbie canner, what size jars do you use for the 15 minute process? I read all these Dire Warnings about making sure you pay attention to the jar size and the length of time water bathing so that the heat penetrates fully or whatever. 🙂
The 15 minute processing time is good for either pints or half-pints (a lot of half-pint recipes specify a 10-minute processing time, so that would be fine for that size). And I should have mentioned that: while the dire warnings can get a little over the top at times, it’s always good to ask.
Dumb question…what do you do with chutney???
Most of my chutney ends up on cheese sandwiches: in fact, chutney-and-cheese lunch is a staple at my house. But really, as a condiment it’s quite flexible; works great on a cheese tray, on all sorts of sandwiches, as an accompaniment to a curry or Indian stew, as a garnish for roasted or pan-fried meat. I find chutney more versatile than jam, actually, and I never seem to run out of uses. One of my favorite holiday desserts is curried apple chutney mini-tarts. Since it is easy to personalize the flavor profile of a chutney, making it as sweet or as spicy as you like, it’s easy to make it useful in your own kitchen.
What about you, readers? Any great chutney ideas to share with Jennifer?
Thanks! I will have to try it, although my knowledge of spicy peppers ends at jalapeño! Can I use that?
I love chutney as a replacement for ketchup on a burger, or on a brat. It’s a great condiment for pork dishes. Chicken sandwiches…and around Thanksgiving a nice alternative to cranberry sauce. Chop it fine and encase a goat cheese log for cocktail nibbles. I even make a microwaved chicken dish that comes out like barbeque using chutney… Hope this inspires you try it!
Thanks for this recipe – easy and cooks for less time than many of my recipes…garlic fest this weekend and then on to chutney making!
Oh, where were you last week when I used Ball’s directions…lol. I love chutney. I use it much like you – in sandwiches, on roasted meats, like jam…..
Thank you for this new-to-me recipe.
Thanks ladies!! Can’t wait to try it.
I have this chutney in my pot right now! Fingers crossed. Is it supposed to cook down to something spreadable? Or be chunk? Thanks!
Hope you got this in time: chutney is chunky and usually thinner than a jam. Sort of a cross between jam & salsa texture. Let me know if you liked it!
I just made this – and I think the crystallized ginger is WAY too strong and I love ginger – would have much preferred a grating of fresh. Any suggestions to salvage? If I added more fruit, vinegar and honey etc. this would probably work no?
Well, remember that chutneys definitely mellow on the shelf, so while something might taste crazy strong just out of the pot, flavors blend & mellow after a month or so of storage.
That said, when I want to tame spice or bite, I usually add honey. You can certainly add more fruit, with or without additional vinegar (as plums & apples are both acidic enough for safety) if you like.
That is a good reminder – thanks – I am “new” and so my comment might have been premature. I actually added some honey before seeing your reply and indeed it took the edge off – I think I just need to work on my canning confidence 😉 Thanks again!!