Sunday, November 23, 2008

Rank Injustice

All things chickeny and muttony
Taste better far when served with chutney
This is the mystery eternal
Why didn’t Major Grey make colonel?

The village barber drove by yesterday morning while I was out getting the mail and pulled over to present me with a bag full of pears from the trees in his backyard. They are the kind that stay rock hard for days and then rot overnight. Perfect. I got out the canning jars.

Of course this will not taste just like Major Grey Mango Chutney, but it’s still darn good. Any fruit you use should be pretty firm.

1 dozen pears (six to eight cups of fruit)
2 large onions
1 c golden raisins
1 package dried apricots (12 oz approx)
1 lemon
1 sweet red bell pepper
2 jalapeno peppers
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
¼ c. ginger, grated
2 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
2 cups cider vinegar
½ t. ground cloves
½ t. ground allspice
1 cinnamon stick
1 t. salt

Put the sugar, vinegar, ginger, garlic, spices and salt into a non-reactive kettle over low heat. Peel and core the pears, peel and quarter the onion, clean and quarter the red pepper. Quarter the lemon and remove the seeds. Cut the stems off the jalapenos.

Roughly chop the pears, onion, and red pepper into dice, either by hand or in the food processor. Not too fine—a little larger than, say, a dried chickpea. Chop the lemon and jalapeno pretty finely but just short of a puree. Cut each dried apricot into four pieces. Add the fruit and peppers to the vinegar mixture and cook slowly until the mixture thickens. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and use a flame tamer so that it does not come to a boil and scorch. This will take a couple of hours; you want it to cook down and be thick enough to cling to a spoon when you tip it sideways, so be patient.

Taste; usually the pears and apricots make it sweet enough but if you are using other fruit you may need to add sugar. It should be sweet, tangy, garlicky and hot.

Once it is ready, take out the cinnamon stick. Remove from heat and pour into hot sterilized eight-ounce jars. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Miscellaneous notes: the red bell pepper is there “for pretty” and on one occasion when far from a source of fresh peppers, I have used one of those little glass jars of diced pimiento, well rinsed. This is a good foundation recipe for chutney; I’ve made it with green tomatoes and hard old-orchard apples. You could use canned diced pineapple, I suppose, but then you’d really want to cut down on the sugar.

(The title pun and rhyme are not mine but I can't remember where I saw them!)

EDITED 11/29/08 to correct proportions of vinegar and sugar, which were flip-flopped.


Amy said...

wow thevillage barber gave them to you? that's what I like about living in a small town, everyone thinks of each other.

Shay said...

Yes...we get our sweet corn this way in the summer, we'll come home and a sack-full is sitting on the porch.

Now if only the guy over on Cooper St with the apricot tree will think of me too!

Mary said...

This looks wonderful. When you say package of dried apricots can you appomimate the ounces?

Shay said...

I'm sorry, Mary! that has been corrected. I'm talking about a 12 oz package which is what they come in at the local supermarket. 14 oz would be fine, too.