Posts Tagged chutney

More yellow magic

My thought-provoking tomato jam barely made a dent in the carpet of ripe yellow tomatoes on the table in the sun room, so I moved promptly on to chutney, a yellow tomato-apple option that hit any number of my chutney must-have buttons. In addition to some 4 cups of chopped up tomatoes (and this was half the recipe) it used  apples and onions for flavour, chilli, ginger and mustard for heat, cider vinegar for bite and golden sultanas and white sugar for sweetness. The recipe demanded a single clove of garlic too, which seemed so small as to be totally irrelevant. I left it out. But I did throw in two cups of tomatillos, using up the last of the 2015 harvest. I liked tomatillos last year, when I only had a dozen of them. This year it’s been a struggle to use them up. chutney

And while I know chutneys need to wait a month or so for the flavours to meld together nicely, I couldn’t resist trying one of my eight jars. Two conclusions: it’s quite pleasant, even straight out of the preserving kettle. And it could have used more heat.

Sweet yellow tomato chutney (adapted from the Bernadin book of home preserving)

2 cups cider vinegar
5 cups chopped, peeled apples (I used a mix of Macs and Empire)
4 cups quartered yellow tomatoes (recipe said to peel them. I didn’t)
2 cups quartered tomatillos (or just use more tomatoes)
1-1/2 cups golden raisins (sultanas)
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 small chili peppers, seeded and chopped (use 3 or 4 next time)
2 tbsp mustard seeds, lightly crushed
1 tbsp chopped ginger
1 tsp cinammon
1 tsp salt

Put all the ingredients in a big pan, bring to the boil and then simmer until chutney thick (about 30 minutes). Bottle in sterilized jars. Waterbath 10 minutes.

Chutneys take time to boil down, but you can’t really find a more simple recipe.

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Magic with mangoes

mango2I’m so easily led. A friend asks if I have any good recipes for mango chutney (which I don’t), and I go haring off to Chinatown East to see what they’re charging for mangoes. And with a box of ripe, yellow mangoes going for a mere $6.99, I end up plotting my own mango chutney too. Friend plans to try the Major Grey style chutney from the Bernadin book, but I wanted something different.

Cue a blog called the daring gourmet (with a name like that how can you go wrong?), which added black nigella seeds to its jumble of spices, giving me the excuse to walk down to Little India as well. But following recipes has never been my strong point. With vague memories that adding oil can reduce the shelf life of a chutney, I decided not to fry the spices to start the process, and I also cut the sugar (those Chinatown mangoes were ripened to perfection), added an onion and sliced up lemon and more than doubled the ginger. I also forgot to add turmeric, which was a shame. But it was fun experimenting. Here’s the final recipe, with thanks to daring gourmet for the inspiration.

Mango chutney (makes 5-1/2 jars)
2 2-inch pieces of fresh ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced (it was a very, very large clove)
2 tsp nigella seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cardamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp crushed dried chiles
1/2 tsp salt (add more next time)
6 mangoes, peeled and diced
1 onion, finely chopped (could double)
1 organic lemon, quartered, seeded and thinly sliced (including the peel) (could double)
1-3/4 cups sugar (use 1 or 1-1/2 next time)
1 cup cider vinegar

mango1Put all the ingredients in a preserving pan and simmer gently until it’s nice and thick and chutney like, which took best part of an hour. Crush gently with a potato masher to remove some of the biggest chunks. Bottle in sterilized jars. Waterbath, if you are a fan of waterbathing.

Chutneys mellow over time, so today’s taste may not reflect the finished product. But I admit I’m impressed so far. The texture is good, the nigella adds crunch and taste and the lemon peel adds a nice sour tang to what is otherwise a pretty sweet chutney. It’s spicy, with a definite chile/ginger bite. Something to eat with homemade bread and a sharp, strong cheese.

Rating: 4-1/2 (out of 5)

Just a few days out of the jar, this one is rather spectacular, with the nigella seeds offering an onion zip, and the ginger/chile giving it a pleasant heat. The lemon was an inspired addition, and yet you can still taste the mango, which often isn’t the case when you combine delicate fruit with vinegar and lots of spices. A very, very pleasant chutney indeed.

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Tomatillo magic

til1The tomatillos have been one of the success stories from the community garden, and I grabbed a bunch of windfalls today, along with a collection of not-yet-ripe tomatoes that the squirrels had nibbled and rejected. I’ve used tomatillos in a Spanish omelet (very successful), and in a corn-tomatillo salsa (also rather nice). But I had almost two kilos of the tomatoes and tomatillos mix, so I wanted something I could make and keep. Google offered several recipes for chutney, including one that suggested a 3-hour boil down. I rejected that, and blundered into a Dutch blog called Grown to Cook, which seems to be my sort of blog. (Not WordPress, sadly, so no “follow” button that I could find).

Among other things, blogger Vera writes about a yeast-based chocolate cake that comes from a recipe book I own (so I have no excuse not to try it). And she has a tomatillo chutney that sounded beautifully non sweet and (more importantly) was easily adaptable to the ingredients I had in the pantry. I used golden sultanas rather than raisins, and I crushed the mustard seeds before adding them, but things stayed more or less the same. Yes, chutney takes time to prep and boil, but it’s pretty damn easy.


Green tomato/tomatillo chutney (adapted from Grown to Cook website)

1 kg tomatoes, washed and coarsely chopped (remove the parts the critters nibbled at)
1 kg tomatillos, husked, washed and coarsely chopped
750 g apples, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 onions, chopped
1 cup golden sultanas
1 cup sugar
2 cups cider vinegar
2 tbsp mustard seeds, lightly crushed
2 tsp salt
3 small chiles, seeded and chopped (use more next time)

Throw all the ingredients into a large saucepan, bring to the boil and then simmer about an hour until it’s chutney thick. Bottle in sterilized jars. Water bath for 10 minutes. I ended up with 11 jars, which was a lot more than I expected. I’d better like it.

At first bite, I thought this chutney was going to be vinegary rather than sour-sweet, but it seemed to mellow overnight and now has a rather mysterious “what is this?” sort of taste. A little extra spice would be nice — my chiles were very small, and not that spicy.

I also came back with another dozen of the radish/turnip thingies, which my fellow gardener assures me are actually turnips, not radishes, so the last blog entry is flat out wrong. What do I do with these?

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Plenty of plums

I missed a month of canning and jamming on the bike trip of a lifetime last month, so there are some jams that just won’t happen this year. I don’t think it matters — the storage shelves are creaking with jam already — but I do want to step up the pickles, add to the chutney collection and save those wonderful late summer/autumn fruits that are starting to arrive, a couple of weeks later than in a normal year.

Last week we canned peaches in three slightly different ways, but I’m saving the blog-about-it until I get around to opening a jar (why eat canned peaches when there are fresh ones in the market?). This week it was those nice, blue Zwetschken plums. I’ve written before about the mysterious alchemy that turns blue plums into red jam, but today’s batch seemed to produce a jam that’s even redder than usual. We picked a plum preserve recipe from Madelaine Bullwinkel’s Gourmet Preserves but eliminated a few steps, added ginger and cut the already small amount of sugar. It set super fast, and I think it’s going to be very nice, but it made five jars, so no samples now.


Plum ginger jam (adapted from Gourmet Preserves)

3 lbs blue plums, pitted and quartered
1 cup water (maybe use 1-1/2 cups next time)
2 cups sugar
juice of one lemon
1-2 cup crystallized ginger, coarsely chopped

Simmer the chopped plums with the water for 20 minutes, and then drain the liquid from the mushy plums in a colander — let the mush sit around for a good 30 minutes so that it drains well. Add the sugar to the liquid with half the lemon juice and heat, gently until the sugar dissolves, and then at a rolling boil until it’s about to set. The recipe says 5-10 minutes for this stage, but ours was well set within 4 minutes. Then, off the heat, add the plum quarters and the ginger and let it sit around for another 15 minutes or so. Bring the mix back to the boil and boil until it’s set. Again, this took minutes.

Bottle in sterilized jars. Water bath 10 minutes.


Second venture was a plum apple chutney, from the adventurous Art of Preserving, by the beautifully named Jan Berry. I got this book for $9 in a second hand shop a while back, and I see that Amazon has it on offer at $138. Maybe I should sell.

Plum raisin chutney (mostly from Art of Preserving)

4 lbs blue plums, pitted and chopped
2 lbs apples (we used Macintosh)
1 lb onions
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup currants
2-1/2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp allspice
1-1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1 tbsp mustard seeds
Black pepper

Put all the ingredients in a big, heavy pan and simmer until it thickens (something over an hour). Bottle in sterilized jars. Waterbath.


Why is everything made from plums quite so beautiful?


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Apricots and lemons

It seems I’ve never blogged about my maybe-favourite chutney, a tasty mix of apricots and lemons that we’ve done at least once a year. But apricots and lemons go surprisingly well together — you use the whole lemon, rind and all, as though it was a marmalade, with heat from ginger and cayenne pepper, or this year from two tiny jalapenos gleaned from the garden.

Relatively quick boil, for chutney. Perhaps a little runny, but goes well with grilled vegetables, omelettes, meat, cheese. Just about anything in fact. I like.


Moroccan apricot lemon chutney (from The complete book of pickling, by Jennifer MacKenzie)
(I’m not sure what’s Moroccan about this one except perhaps the cumin)

4 organic lemons, peel washed and cut into strips (or chunks in our case) and flesh seeded and roughly chopped
6 cups apricots, roughly chopped
2 cups chopped onions
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
2 small jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, roasted in a dry pan until they darken a little
1-1/2 tsp salt
2-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup cider vinegar

Put all the ingredients into a heavy pot and simmer until nice and thick – about 20-30 minutes. Bottle in sterlized jars.

That was easy.

Except that looking at the recipe just now, I see that we should have boiled the  peels up in water before adding them to the chutney (also like marmalade). It softens the peels, and removes some of the bitterness. I wonder what not boiling them will have done to the finished product.

Oh, and we also made about a dozen jars of apricot jam — half plain apricot, and half with a splash of redcurrant thrown in at the end for pretty pink streaks. Something to remind us of summer.


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The writing’s on the quince

I admit it seemed a shame to cut this baby up and transform it into something — the scratches looked like Lord of the Ring style  runes, and I did admit to questions about what this particular quince was trying to tell me. But I was in New Zealand for a reason (biking, and visiting friends), and what better way to pass the non-biking time than taking advantage of harvest season. Friend was working for the morning — she’s learning Maori and it was homework time — so I delved into her big collection of recipes and picked an easy looking quince chutney, which I proceeded to change beyond recognition.

To backtrack, I have a very soft spot for quinces, even though you can’t eat them raw. It’s an acquired, slightly musty taste that reminds me of my childhood, where we had a prolific quince tree in a corner of the warm, walled-in back garden, and they are rare enough in Canada that they feel sort of exotic. Quinces price out at up to $3 each in Toronto, if you can get them at all. New Zealand friend, a childhood friend for that matter, has two trees groaning down with them. I didn’t think Canadian customs would like it if I tried to take the quinces back, but maybe I could manage a jar of chutney.

For the first time, on friend’s advice, I didn’t actually peel the quince. You rub off the fuzz, and chop and core the fruit. I upped the ginger and added vast quantities of both vinegar and water (the original recipe seemed to have almost none of either) and then threw in a chopped-up onion because the original recipe seemed too quince focused.

And the finished product?

Ginger quince chutney (adapted from a random newspaper cutting and cooked in New Zealand)

4 cups chopped, cored quince
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup currants
1/3 cup grated ginger
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 cup chopped onion

Wipe the fuzz off the quince before chopping and coring it. Put all the ingredients into a large pan, heat gently until the sugar dissolves, and then simmer for about 30 minutes until it’s golden yellow and chutney-thick.

Bottle in sterilized jars.

It’s really rather nice.

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I give a fig

Good fresh figs are one of those to-die-for fruits, although they don’t travel well and are usually both underripe and scarily expensive up here in the Great White North.

So when my local store had ripe-looking one-pound packs of figs on offer for $7 for two on a day I had set aside to can tomatoes, I couldn’t resist the deal.

Surely the 45 minutes it takes to waterbath a batch of tomatoes is plenty of time to rustle up a batch of jam?

And how could I resist a peppered balsamic fig jam that the author says “started my love affair with canning”?

Turns out it was super easy, although I’m not quite sure if it’s a jam or a chutney. You chop the figs, simmer them with a little water for a bit, throw in the rest of the ingredients and boil until thick. The only thing I changed was crushing the peppercorns and adding them rather than fiddling around with a sachet of peppercorns and fishing it out at the end. The finished product is a rich, deep purple, with flecks of golden seeds, There’s a cup of balsamic in it, but it tastes mostly of spicy, peppery fig.


With cheese, perhaps? A sharp, sheep’s cheese?

Rating: 3-1/2 (out of five). We opened one jar to go with the cheese starter for Christmas lunch, this was not as awesome as it ought to be. It was ok, but a little watery. More pepper next time? More balsamic? Or just decide to eat figs fresh.

And yes, it was done while the tomatoes were still doing their stuff. I wrote about tomatoes before, so I don’t plan to blog about them this year. Suffice it to two canners are sharing 22 jars of summer in a can. That’s down from 40 jars last year. I see shortages ahead.

How many jars of tomatoes is actually enough?

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Blue plums = red jam

I have never quite understood how blue skinned plums with green or yellow flesh can boil up into a rich red jam or chutney. But there’s some alchemy there that turns plum preserves into one of the prettiest jams there is, and I have a whole shelf full of the magic to enjoy over the year ahead.

This year’s plum stuff included a couple of attempts to use up the fennel flowers, plus a batch of  the chewy plum-star anise jam from last year, although I used German blue plums instead of the damsons I found last year. It’s based on a recipe from the lovely Food in Jars web site, although I played around with the quantities to match the amount of plums available. I ended up with 5 cups of plums,  3 of sugar and the juice of two lemons, along with a generous spoonful of chopped ginger root and 3 super-fresh star anise stars.

From there it was on to chutney, and I loved the look of this offering from the strangely named Evil Mad Scientist web site. It uses lemons and lemon juice rather than vinegar,  and there seemed to be a nice mix of the sort of spices that I like. I did about 2/3 of the recipe, but kept the spice levels more or less the same, as well as doubling the ginger. It’s nice, with a decent kick, and will (as chutneys do) presumably only get better with time.

But there were still a lot of plums to use, so I hit the internet again for a similar-yet-different plum apple chutney from the BBC’s Good Food web site. It’s heavy on the garlic, and a little sweeter than I would like, probably because Canadian Macintosh apples are sweeter than the Bramley cooking apples I grew up with.

Memo to Canadian growers: why does nobody here (or indeed anywhere in North America) grow a good Bramley apple, which are huge and sour, and which melt away to velvet applesauce in no time at all?

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Kicking it up a notch

A while back I made a peach white peppercorn preserve that wowed me with its gentle hint of subtle fire. I tried it again a year later with nectarines and black pepper, and it didn’t quite cut it. But then the peach season rolled around again, and it was time to expermiment.

The main event between times was a short trip to Santa Fe, and its absolutely amazing farmers’ market. The stalls there offered so many different sorts of hot pepper, that my peaches and peppercorns venture seemed sort of tame. So while we redid the white pepper jam because it was so damn good, I voted for something with jalapenos too this time, and because it’s my kitchen when the vote is one-to-one, I win. (Well, if truth be told, canning buddy didn’t actually complain)

I did a bit of internet searching, and rejected everything that used pectin, as well as one recipe that told me to puree the peaches in a food processor before getting the jam under way. (I like chunks in my jam.) But then I blundered into Homesicktexan, who seemed to meet all my peach jalapeno jam criteria, including not proposing an indecently large volume of jam, in case we ended up not liking it.

Here’s what we did, which is close to the recipe in the link, but not quite there because we ran out of peaches, and I wimped out on the jalapeno.

Peach jalapeno jam (based on Homesick Texan’s recipe)
Just over 2 lbs peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
Just under 2 cups of sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced

Add sugar to peaches and let it sit around for a bit until the sugar is mostly dissolved. (It was a hot day, it took about an hour). Add lemon juice and chopped up jalapeno and boil until it sets. Lisa suggests simmering for 40 minutes; ours was ready in about 20. Bottle in hot jars, water bath, if you are waterbathing sort of person.

It’s a little lemony (that was the only bit of the recipe we didn’t change), and it has a very gentle, very subtle bite.

We’re kicking up the jamming, just one notch.

From there we went to the hugely successful apricot lemon chutney from previous years and to a corn red pepper relish, because the corn has just come into season and I wanted to roast peppers on the new gas stove and try out my  new corn zipper.

First off, let me say the corn zipper works like a charm, and I don’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier.

The relish seems a little sweet right now, but it might mature.

Corn, pepper, basil relish (adapted, to add fire and remove celery, from The Complete Book of Pickling)
4 chopped, roasted red peppers, skin removed
1-3/4 cups sugar
2 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1/2 tbsp dill seeds
3 cups cider vinegar
8 cups corn kernels
2 cups chopped onions
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
1/4 cup finely chopped basil (we used a mix of Thai, lemon and regular)

Roast the peppers by putting them directly on the gas burner and turning them round as they sizzle and char. Dunk in cold water, and peel off most of the skin, and then chop them and set aside.

Put all the ingredients except the red pepper and basil in a preserving kettle or heavy saucepan, heat gently until the sugar dissolves and then simmer for 30 minutes or so until it thickens. Add the peppers and simmer for another 5 minutes. Stir in basil and ladle into hot jars. Water bath for 15 minutes.

Aug 3 edit: It might have been a mistake to crack these open while fresh corn is still in season, but I admit I’m underwhelmed. There’s a nice spice undertone, but the overwhelming taste is sugar and bought canned peppers. No indication of the tender loving care that went into the preparation, and far too much sweetness for me.

Rating: 2 (out of 5)
Not one I’m going to bother to make again unless I tweak the recipe very violently.

And finally, I introduced canning buddy to the keep-in-the-fridge bread-and-butter pickles, making my third venture for this one in just three weeks. I’ve been taking slices into the office with me to kick up my lunch, and I even had a very small pickle sandwich (pickles and a single slice of bread) before today’s horribly hot and humid 64km bike ride. It helped keep me going for 47 of those kilometers and then I heat-stroked/bonked.

Here were the pickles, after their first introduction to the spice/vinegar/dill/garlic mix.

And this was the overall fruits of a morning of pretty intensive labor. Canning buddy is away for a month now, so I need to work out what I want to do solo before she returns.

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Oranges and lemons (and ginger and spring onions)

I’ve been lagging on  updating stuff again, but there were two real marmalade sessions since the Meyer lemon adventure back last month, along with another batch of preserved lemons and a few other odds and sods. The first session celebrated the arrival of Seville oranges in Toronto, and the second one was because one marmalade session clearly wasn’t going to cut it. Then we tried (and possibly failed) to recreate the sounds-nicer-than-it looks apricot date chutney from the New Jersey weekend and threw together a beet relish to give the food processor a workout.  I know I’ve posted about this one before, but I’m damned if I can find the link to post it here. And I have not got any pictures, because I have a new computer and have not managed to download the camera program yet.

But the real revelation in the latest cooking ventures was a ginger scallion sauce from one of those many canning/cooking blogs out there. It probably  probably took 10 minutes from start to finish, including the time it took to dig the food processor out of its hiding place. Recipe is simple. Chop scallions and ginger. Add salt. Heat oil to smoking point and pour oil over the other ingredients, trying hard to not splash yourself with sizzling oil in the process. I’ve been using it to give a zing to cheese and avocado sandwiches, and was planning to add to pasta today before the spouse started cooking ingredients that didn’t seem to want to go with that.

Thanks, Lottie and Doof for the super-easy recipe.

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