Friday, September 11, 2009

It's a Canvolution, yes it is: Pear Chutney

Pear Chutney
Are you a chutney fan? I've had chutney before, and made it last year for the first time. But it wasn't until we used the jars of chutney throughout the year that I discovered its versatility and tastiness. It pairs wonderfully with pork and chicken, I love swirling it into cottage cheese in the afternoon, or tucking it into pita sandwiches with whatever veggies and cheese I have on hand. Oh and then there's the wow factor for parties and the holidays: pair some chutney with crackers and cream cheese (or fromage blanc) and you have a fancy appetizer.

Last weekend was Labor Day, and while many relaxed and rested, alas, it was not in my stars. It's harvest time and the abundance of beautiful produce and fruit is at its pinnacle. It's high tomato season, and that means sauces. More on that in the coming days but here's proof I was busy:
It was a busy weekend

Our friend Barb's tree hung heavy with pears and she offered them up. Just a few minutes of picking provided enough for a big batch of chutney and an overnight run in the crockpot for pear sauce. Which, by the way, is the single best topping for morning pancakes.

But I digress. This is about chutney.

Don't tell the food safety police, but I changed up the recipe a wee bit. Oh I know. That's deemed a dangerous thing. But I think the subbing of craisins for half of the golden raisins makes it even more zingy and complex. And with the abundant use of sugar and vinegar, I tend to think I'm safe.

I really love this recipe: it has a lot of ingredients, but the mix of dried fruits, nuts, and fresh fruit, along with spices – including cayenne – gives it a wonderful depth, texture and flavor balance. And look at the beauty of the pot as it was filled with good stuff:
Ingredients for Pear Chutney: all in the pot

In the end, we have another year's worth of chutney with extra to share.

Jars of Pear Chutney

My recipe comes from Sunset and I've adjusted it by doubling the cayenne, and subbing 1 cup of the golden raisins for dried cranberries. The original recipe is as follows:

Pear Chutney
  • 1 cup blanched almonds
  • 6 pounds ripe pears
  • 1 3/4 cups coarsely chopped red bell pepper (about 14 oz.)
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
  • 2 1/3 cups golden raisins (15 oz.)
  • 2 2/3 cups chopped dried apricots (15 oz.)
  • 1 2/3 cups chopped red onions (about 14 oz.)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Place almonds in a 9-inch pan and bake in a 350° oven until golden, shaking pan occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes.

Peel, core, and chop pears; you should have 10 1/2 cups.

In an 8- to 10-quart pan, combine almonds, pears, bell pepper, sugar, vinegar, raisins, apricots, red onions, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, garlic salt, and cayenne.

Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-high and stir often until mixture is thick and reduced by 1/3, about 1 1/4 hours.

Leave 1/2 inch of headspace in each jar and process jars for 10 minutes.


Anonymous said...

LeLo - Always love your recipes, and now I'm lusting after your jar labels. Would love to know: 1) Would they work in a water bath?, and 2) If so, would you mind sharing your source? I've looked everywhere for "cannables" (not to be confused with cannibals!). Thanks!

LeLo said...

Hi there anonymous. You're making me blush. :)

These labels are my own design (sshhhh: I'm professionally a graphic designer) and I've tried out quite a few different kinds, placements and adhesives. In the end, I've found these top labels to be the simplest. They do not adhere, but are just printed out on my inkjet printer, I cut them out, and they're held on by the jar band. No sticky stuff on the jars to worry about removing next time I use them. Of course, if I remove the screw band I'm screwed, but so far, this has really worked for me. Let me know if you need more info or some coaching on how to do it. Makes me think perhaps a blog post on the topic would be good: you're not the first person to ask me about them! Keep on cannin'!

Mark H said...

WELL.....I have NEVER given chutney a moment's thought......but am now intrigued thanks to your clever beautiful ideas. Dang it. Now I must research. NOT a pear fan, but there are other temptations I can think of. BEAUTIFUL mix in that pot.

Adrienne said...

I echo the sentiments above - the chutney looks great but the labels are stealing the show! My system of sharpie + masking tape is making me cringe. A blog post on the subject would be much appreciated :)

Jane said...

I will be trying your pear topping when they are in season here. I agree with everyone else a topic on those neat labels. Very nice.

Best Wishes, Marie said...

chutney is also very nice with lamb. i have had a citrus, minty chutney (chunky sauce if not a real chutney) before. sorry no recipe. but ... over all ..... before i started readying i just said WOW. WOW!!! btw, i have a 100 year old house also.

Best Wishes, Marie said...

had an idea. maybe if you do a laminate sheet on on the top side, it would make it so you can whipe them off if they get dusty.

Best Wishes, Marie said...

lelo -- this is a contest for cooking something yellow !!! you are so creative, would love to see you shake this up !!

Karina said...

I LoVe Chutney. I tried making an Orange Balsamic version (with our orange harvest), but it wasn't the most successful. Thanks for sharing the recipe - but I have to admit...the jar labels is what first caught my eye on Flickr. I'm totally stealing that idea (although without your graphic design expertise, I'm sure mine will be a bit more simple).

Just Lovely!

StumptownMom said...

Made some of this yummy chutney yesterday - delicious! Put it over goat cheese and served it with crackers. It was a big hit.

Unknown said...

I have a batch of this chutney cooking on the stove now, and it smells like heaven in here! My coworker gave me a bunch of pears from his tree, and I found your recipe. Thank you so much! I can't wait to try it!

Anonymous said...

Can you freeze this Chutney in freezer jars and use as needed?

LeLo said...

Thanks for the comment Jessica. Let me know how you like it!

Yes, you can freeze this chutney in freezer jars, I don't see why not? You might get some liquid aspects happening with the freezing and defrosting of the pears, but if you're not looking to hot water bath can it, freezing should be fine. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great recipe. WE just made a batch of it. yum!