I love making all kinds of jarred stuff, like chutney, cranberry sauce, foriana sauce, pumpkin butter… It’s just fun – especially because you can really create as you go. And chutney is one of those things that you can completely make your own.
I have one apple tree on my property. It grows little green apples. They’re not great. They’re dry, and not that flavorful. But I feel compelled to cook with them because I’m in competition with the raccoons. Overnight, they can rid the tree clean of every apple. It’s like they have their whole families come with apple picking bags.
We know it’s the raccoons because we finally have proof. This July, before we left town, my husband set up his wildlife camera on our peach tree. The raccoons have always beat me to my peaches. On one year, I notated on my calendar that they disappeared on July 17th. So, we were ready in July.
And there they came, along with their teenagers. No bags across their shoulders, but they’re certainly smart. In the photos, you can see the larger raccoons in the tree, and the children gathering them up down on the ground.
We figured out from the span of the dates on the photos (those aren’t the real dates because my husband is electronically challenged) that they really don’t scour the whole tree overnight, like it seems, but they take a few days to do it. So you really don’t notice until it’s too late. Plus, by then, most all of the branches have been broken by their sturdy bodies, which makes this phenomenon doubly frustrating.
But back to the apples. On most years, I let the animals, including my dog, Louie, enjoy the apples.
But this year, I really wanted to take advantage of some of the apples. Plus some crabapples, that I know nothing about, but that’s another post.
I picked half of a grocery bag of apples and crabapples, and it was heavy. And don’t worry, there are about a million apples still on the tree.
Now to put on my thinking cap. Crappy-tasting apples. What in the world to do?
So chutney came to mind. Because there are so many other flavors in chutney, like the savory ingredients, the sweet ingredients, the spices, and the vinegar. The apples would just add substance. Perfect.
So here’s what I did, and, as usual, I’m only listing ingredients as a guide, because you can use what you like in your own chutney. But I can tell you that you cannot taste bland, non-juicy apples in this chutney! In fact, it’s one of the best ones I’ve made!
Curried Apple Fig Apricot Chutney
White onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Apples, cored, finely chopped
Chopped dried apricots
Chopped dried figs
Curry powder or individual spices like cumin, coriander, cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon
Cinnamon stick, if you’re not adding ground cinnamon
Apple juice or some white wine
Add the onions and sauté them for a few minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and stir it in.
Immediately add the apples, dried fruit, sugar, seasoning, and about 1/4 cup or so of liquid. The liquid is just to start the steaming and cooking/softening process of the fruits.
Bring to a soft boil, then cover the pot, turn the heat way down, and let the chutney cook for about 45 minutes.
Occasionally check to see how much liquid is on the bottom of the pot. You want the fruits to keep some semblance of their shapes, not for the chutney to turn to mush.
Remove the lid of the pot and let the chutney cook if any excess liquid remaining needs to evaporate. Don’t stir.
For the last step, add a little bit of apple cider vinegar to the chutney, and let cook for about one minute. Remove the pot from the heat, then gently stir in the juice of half of a lemon.
Remove the cinnamon stick, and let the chutney cool completely.
The one thing that’s really nice about chutney is that is freezes well. Unless you want to make a dozen jars of chutney and are willing to can them, just make a small amount and stick them in the freezer. It’s so handy and easy. And that way you can make different varieties of chutney!
And I finally have a labeler!!!
Today I served the chutney with pork loin, and corn on the cob. The curry flavors are striking, especially with the apple, fig, and apricot.
Just if you’re interested, I paired this meal with an Albariño. Fabulous!!!
This chutney is also good with roasted chicken. I know – it was my lunch today!
note: Typically, I place all of the chutney ingredients, except the final vinegar and lemon juice step, in a pot and cook everything together, an example shown below. This time, just for fun, I decided to sauté the aromatics first. It added a little oiliness to the chutney, which worked fine. But make sure, if you sauté the aromatics first, that you serve the chutney warm or at room temperature.