It all started with a flat of figs, a steal at $5.99 from a not-really farmers’ market somewhere outside Princeton, New Jersey.
It ended with 26 jars of five different concoctions, and a definite challenge to Newark’s Airport Security when I head back to the Great White North with four of them tomorrow. Checked luggage time for sure.
But in between times, it really was sort of fun.
The excuse was a weekend visit to the friend who invented canning (well, in my book at least), and while we did plan to get out for a long walk in the winter sunshine today, somehow we never got that far.
So let’s see what we did:
Apple fig chutney
I’ve coveted this chutney ever since I bought a slim recipe book from Australia’s Women’s Weekly magazine a few years back, but fresh figs have always been sold at such a silly price that I never acted on the desire. But at the New Jersey price, what did we have to lose? It’s a basic chutney recipe — take fruit, vinegar, sugar, spices and simmer til thick — but this one seemed good straight out of the pan, while chutneys normally have to mellow for a month or so. We ate it with cold roast lamb. It would go equally well with cheese, or sausages or anything else that’s going.
Fig and apple chutney
12 medium figs, coarsely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 medium apples, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups white vinegar
1 cup dry white wine
*1 cup sultanas
*1/4 cup tomato paste
*1 clove garlic
*2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp ground cardamon
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Combine ingredients and simmer until thick. Bottle.
You can’t get easier than that.
*We omitted the sultanas, and didn’t miss them at all. We also omitted the mustard seeds, because we didn’t have any and the garlic, because we forgot it, and we substituted home-made crushed tomatoes for tomato puree.
Quince juniper chutney
Next up was a quince chutney, which is all part of my campaign to persuade canning buddy to plant a quince tree in her extensive back yard. The internet pointed to something called my mum’s quince chutney, which sounded as though it ought to be good. First there’s the use of ‘mum’ instead of ‘mom’ which appeals to my Brit-roots, and then there’s the liberal use of juniper berries, which add an earthy bitterness to things like gin (and chutneys). Ours is golden rather than pink, but perhaps that’s because the quinces were green rather than golden. It’s pretty mild right now. Maybe an extra kick next time. Or maybe it just needs to mellow.
Interesting sidenote here. A BlackBerry dictionary doesn’t recognize the word “quince.” I tried.
The canning game continued today, after a diversion to Trader Joes and the shopping mall, where I came home with a lined, wool Anne Klein jacket for $30 (huh?).
This is another Australian Women’s weekly recipe. I have no clue how it tastes, because I was on the phone failing to buy a house for the crucial finishing moment so didn’t even get to lick the pan. But it was a pretty straightforward mix of spices, vinegar, limes and chili, boiled for 20 eye watering minutes and then canned.
Persian grapefruit marmalade
A scarily easy venture, if you ignore the messy start of peeling and depulping big pink-fleshed grapefruit and boiling the peel up three times to lose some of the bitterness. We got four coral red jars from three rather small grapefruit and a couple of cups of sugar. Easy and very, very nice.
Quince cranberry jam
Back to Tigress in a Jam, perhaps my favorite blogging canner for this one, and again it was faster than the recipe says it is. In fact it just about burned while we were thinking about other things, and it’s almost purple rather than orange red. I will double the ginger next time, and maybe cut the sugar just a notch. And I will also watch things more carefully. Burnt-on jam really isn’t the easiest thing in the world to clean.
It’s in the top right of the picture, a deep, deep cherry red.To round things off, we made a supermoist three-ginger cake, which used root ginger, crystallized ginger and powdered ginger, along with pulped up overripe pears.
Did I ever mention how much I like ginger?