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