chutney!

One of the best smells in a fall kitchen is when you are making chutney. Chutney is sweet, pickley, and savory and it just has wonderful aromas.

For me, chutney is one of those kitchen sink kind of prospects as far as recipes. In other words, what I have available in my kitchen dictates what kind of chutney I make.

Today I made Apple – Tomato – Plum chutney. I had a bunch of beautiful fresh tomatoes that someone had gifted us that we were not going to eat before they got too soft, so I blanched all six of them in hot water to make it easy to remove the skins and then I chopped them up and threw them in the pot with:

  • Five medium apples peeled, cored ,and chopped
  • Six plums, mostly peeled and chopped
  • Four green tomatoes, chopped
  • One large red onion, chopped
  • One large sweet onion chopped
  • One red bell pepper, chopped
  • One poblano pepper seeded, de-veined and minced
  • Four jalapeño/Serano peppers seeded, de-veined and minced
  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar and 1/2 cup white wine vinegar (I did not have any malt vinegar)
  • 1 1/2 cups of white sugar
  • Mustard seed, quatre epices, cinnamon, pickling salt (1 1/2 teaspoons), fresh cracked pepper, cumin, dill weed, curry powder.
  • 8 teaspoons honey

I cook everything in my Maslin pot. You bring everything up to almost a boil and then you reduce to simmer, and the chutney cooks down for an hour and a half to two hours – I just sort of eyeball it and I know when it’s the right consistency.

I have a vintage cookbook that I love that I use as a guide. Alison Burt’s Preserves and Pickles from 1974. I bought it at a church book sale years ago, but you can easily find copies on eBay and Amazon that are very inexpensive.

When the chutney reached its desired consistency for me, I jarred in sterilizesterilized jars and did the full immersion hot water bath for canning.

Right now my chutney is all beautiful and jewel toned and cooling on wooden cutting boards on my counter. When they are completely cool, I will tighten the lids on the jars and add the labels.

You can also make chutney that you do not put up that you just jar and refrigerate and it’s good for a few months that way.

Fall canning and preserving is so much easier than you think.

Try it!

blueberry fig preserves 

I was given the gift of figs off of a friend’s fig tree yesterday, so even though I wasn’t sure I was going to be putting anything up this fall, this morning I made blueberry fig preserves.

2 teaspoons baking soda 

8 cups fresh figs stems removed or 2 pounds of fresh figs 

2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

1 1/2 cups fresh apple cider

1/2 cup water

1 cup turbinado sugar

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

5 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract – pure only

1 lemon thinly sliced into rounds seeds removed

Juice of one lemon

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Half teaspoon ground cloves

Half teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

Healthy pinch of salt

Three cinnamon sticks

First dissolve the baking soda in about 2 quarts of cool water and immerse the figs in the treated water either in one half of your kitchen sink if you have a double sink or in a really large bowl. Gently stir to wash the figs using your hand in the water.

Drain the figs and remove all stems and cut in half and place in a bowl.

In a big stewpot or jam pot (depending on what you have) slowly dissolve the sugar, maple syrup, butter, vanilla extract, water, apple cider, spices and a pinch of salt.

Now that you have created a sort of syrup add your fruit – figs, blueberries, lemon slices.

Toss in the cinnamon sticks. Add the lemon juice. 

Bring up to a boil over medium heat and stir a lot because the stuff will stick to the pan. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir gently occasionally and cook down until the figs are golden brown and the blueberries are so deep they almost appear a purple black.

As the figs are reaching the right color, I use an immersion blender to break everything up while continuing to cook down. I have friends who don’t do this at all and the reason I do it is because I like to serve fig preserves with cheese when company comes over and when there are big chunks of fig it makes it clumsy.

Truthfully this all cooked a couple of hours. 


While your jam is cooking sterilize your jars and lids in your canning pot. I actually broke down last year and bought a real big canning pot – black granite ware.

When your jam is ready to jar ladle it into your jars, leaving about a quarter inch at the top of room. Put your lids and rings on completely seal super tight and put them in your boiling hot water bath for 10 to 15 minutes. I will note that I looked at several recipes when developing my own recipe and people were processing anywhere from six minutes to 15 minutes in the hot water bath. I would say I processed mine about 10 minutes maybe a little less.

Pull your jars out and place on a cloth covered or wooden surface several inches apart until they are cool. Once the jars are completely cool press in the center to make sure they are sealed. Store in a cool dark area and wait at least two days before opening. I personally like to let my preserves said a couple of weeks before I try them.

Another important note is this is a recipe without using pectin. So it will probably be more loose than a jam made with pectin. You can make it both ways. I have always made fig preserves or fig jam without pectin. This is also the first time I’ve actually ever written down or looked at recipes for the jam – I’ve just always winged it and it’s turned out fine

canning season

  Becky Home Ecky has taken me over the past three weeks. I have been canning apple sauce, apple butter, pear butter, pickled watermelon rind with red onion, and garlicky bread and butter pickles with jalapeño peppers. The apples and pears I picked myself out of the gardens of friends, and this year everyone seems to have a bumper crop of apples, especially.

The recipes mostly came out of my head and memory of canners past but I used the Blue Chair Jam Cookbook, Simply Recipes, and Ball’s website for added direction on procedure and proportion.

  I have memories of my mother canning and making preserves and her mother, my grandmother, and my late cousin Suzy.  My grandmother would pickle and preserveanything that stood still long enough, and she was an amazing cook. I remember my mother pickling okra and green tomatoes and I also remember her making peach preserves when my parents’ friend Charlie Peterson gave them a big bushel of peaches when I was little.

My mother’s German friends Susi and Babette were canning wizards. I remember all the things they made, pickled, and preserved. When you were in the kitchen of Babette’s farmhouse  in the fall you could hear the sauerkraut popping in their stone crocks in the basement.

  
And I also remember my great aunts on Ritner Street in South Philadehia doing a lot of canning too. They had essentially an extra kitchen in the basement and I remember them pickling and canning what came out of my Aunt Rose’s large kitchen garden in Collegeville.  
  
My Aunt Rose and Uncle Carl had this big old house with sweeping grounds that backed up to a farm when I was little. The farm had horses near some apple trees that would stick their heads over the fence looking for a pat (and some apples!)…my cousin sold the property after my aunt and uncle passed away and by that time (after 2000) where they once lived had stopped being country long ago, and was obscenely over developed.
  My great aunts would mostly can tomatoes and made these pickled hot peppers that would bring tears to your eyes. I remember the jars of canned tomatoes all lined up one after the other all in a row. It actually looked really pretty.

  I had a lot of fun doing my canning with the exception of a minor kitchentastrophe. I singed my backsplash behind my stove top when my giant 21 quart enamel pot I use for the canning water bath was off center on its stove burner.

My kitchen was filled with the smells of childhood.  The vinegary garlic spice odors of making a pickling brine. And the sweet smells of apples and pears cooking  in cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, star anise, and turbinado sugar.  They were wonderful smells and truly sensory memories.

  But last evening when I had finished placing my last batch of applesauce in the canning hot water bath, I was ready to be finished. Canning is actually pretty hard work, even if it’s fun.  Your arms ache by the time you finish pushing hot fruit through the chinois  before the final cooking stage. It made me realize how hard women used to work putting up food for their families to last all winter long.  

  A fun fact is canning dates back to the late 18th century France.  Canning food in unbreakable tins was an English invention from the early 19th century.

I am pretty much a novice at this culinary art form. I am not as nearly accomplished as some of my friends and neighbors. I am sure as I do more canning I will become more adept. 

  So now all I have to do is finish labeling and dating  my final couple of batches and put it away.

Thanks for stopping by.