I have tremendously mixed feelings about the gift-giving aspect of Christmas. Despite my outspoken criticism of the advertisement-driven culture of Christmas, I find myself purchasing gifts for family and friends every year. Making, rather than buying gifts in the past has made me feel better about myself and the holiday as a whole. So this year, with an abundance of produce from the farmers market I decided to make apple chutney. I was also driven by having purchased the book Put Em Up: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook, from Drying and Freezing to Canning and Pickling, by Sherri Brooks Vinton and was eager for an excuse to try canning. You can read more on the book and her recipes in past posts, she’s popular around here!
Since this was my first time canning, I used Vinton’s book for the chutney recipe, as well as for directions to canning, or as she calls it, the “Boiling Water Method.” I altered her recipe a little bit, and this is what I ended up making:
2 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups diced onions
1 cup raisins
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated ginger
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
All of the ingredients are added and kind of left to stew until the apples really start to break down and it all starts to get more chutney-like. I won’t go in to the details of the canning process, since for me it involved a lot of cursing and numerous near-scaldings. I am in no way in the position to be telling other people how to can. I will only say that, despite the huge hassle, I’d willing to try it again, since I’m sure it will be easier now that I have it all figured out.
I was roasting chicken and vegetables as I prepared and canned the chutney. When the chutney was done I preserved all of it, only to remember that I wanted to eat some of it with the chicken I had just roasted. So I opened one of the sealed jars and we had some with our dinner. I really liked the flavors of curry and ginger with the roasted chicken and potatoes.
With this venture I discovered that canning is a huge pain in the ass. I do have to admit, however, that there is something rewarding about the whole process. To see a food you have created, packaged neatly in to jars and looking like your own special little product, a certain pride emerges and it all feels worth it in the end.