Whether praising peaches, exalting raspberries or ogling apricots, I’d have to say I gush over seasonal fruit. What I don’t grow well (and that’s a big category this year), I try to buy locally. I just received a box of fruit from the Washington Sate Fruit Commission, a cardboard treasure chest layered with summer’s finest jewels: peaches, plums, and Italian prunes. (Told you I gush.)
Inspired by a visit to Sweet Preservation and pressured by the waning days of summer and the said box before me, I knew it was time to jar up some sunshine for my winter reserves. Such variety and bounty called for making a favorite: Late Summer Chutney.
First of all, what the heck is chutney? To quote the dictionary, it’s a relish of East Indian origin, often compounded of both sweet and sour ingredients, as fruits and herbs, with spices and other seasoning. Me, I define it as a fruity condiment your pantry (and plate) should not be without.
Chutney is one of the easiest preserves to make, you basically, wash, chop, add, stir, wait, cook, and can. I love chutney as an accompaniment to meats and cheeses, on sandwiches, tossed in salads or naked by the spoonful (naked referring to the chutney). And as with most of my cooking, there’s a lot of room for improvisation. Mix and match fruit, add more of what you like and less of what you don’t (though I would stick to the vinegar and sugar proportions).
RECIPE: Late Summer Chutney
- 1 pound apples
- 1 pound peaches
- 1 pound pears
- 1 pound plums/prunes
- 2 onions
- 1.5 cups of golden raisins
- 1 orange: zest and juice
- 2 cups of cider vinegar
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamon
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes (Like heat? Add more.)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 inches grated fresh ginger
- pinch of salt
- grind or two of black pepper
- Mince onions, add to pot, cook on low until translucent or caramelized.
- Core and remove seeds
- Chop fruit into uniform bite sizes, add to pot, stir.
- Add all of the remaining ingredients and stir.
- Bring up temperature, stirring to dissolve sugar and blend thoroughly
- When combined, turn off heat and let it cool, stir, and refrigerate overnight
- Next day, simmer until fruit is tender but still holding shape and mixture thickens, about 15-20 minutes.
- Place in jars, leaving half inch head space, press down chutney with spoon to remove air bubbles
- Lid, and seal in hot water bath. I usually seal for 10 minutes.
I peel the apples and pears, but not the stone fruit. Peach and plum skins are relatively tender, plus they turn the chutney a beautiful red color.
Right: The heated chutney before being cooled and placed in the fridge. Left: Overnight the fruit gets a little pickled (who doesn’t), firms up and takes on a new color.
I used to cook chutney to death, like a lumpy pastier version of Major Grey’s chutney. Not so any more, I simmer the fruit until all of the ingredients are incorporated and standing liquids have mostly evaporated. This makes for a fresher tasting, crunchier chutney–part side dish, part condiment, all delicious.
The finished product is summer in a jar, a jar you can open at will. Make a batch and capture some sun; you’ll need it this January.
Chutney love indeed indeed; Boz pining for peaches, hankering for apples and letting me know about it.