Monday, April 16, 2012

Chutney

This time yesterday I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by quinces. And pears. Fruit in general. While I like eating fruit, preserving it isn't really something I get excited about. Not ideal for someone with an orchard at her house, really. Anyway, I had a big pile of pears, blown off the tree in the recent weather bomb, and another pile of fragrant but time-consuming quinces. I still had a stash of quince paste from last year, and I didn't want to launch into anything that takes hours of faffing (as things involving quinces often do). So I put it out to Facebook, where I know lots of my friends are far more domestic-goddess-ish than I in the area of preserving. Et voila - the idea of chutney popped up.




Chutney's something I do actually eat (as opposed to jam, which I'm not big on). So I hunted around online, read a few recipes, got an idea in my head and then consulted Stephanie (Alexander, that is). She doesn't have a quince chutney in The Cook's Companion, but she has a peach one which was enough to give me proportions. That's what I've based this on. I think it turned out very well indeed. It should be noted that if I cost out the chutney including buying the jars, the sugar and vinegar and my time, it's probably a lot more expensive than the good old supermarket chutney which I am quite happy to eat usually. But this does have that very special ingredient, yes, you guessed it (insert groan here): luuurve. Awww.




Pear and quince chutney

2 cups brown sugar
2 cups white sugar
3 cups apple cider vinegar
2 onions, finely chopped
3 large quinces (approx 1.3kg), peeled, cored and chopped
4-5 pears (approx 780g), peeled, cored and chopped into 2cm chunks
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup crystalised ginger, chopped
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
3 cups apple cider vinegar

the most time-consuming hands-on part of this recipe is chopping everything up. Quinces are pain to peel and chop, but you can be rough - it won't matter in the finished product. I like to leave some larger chunks of quince because I like to be able to see and taste them in the chutney. If you like a more homogenous texture, cut them into small pieces. Chop and measure everything out, then you're ready to go.

Put sugars, vinegar and onion into a large, heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer, dissolving the sugar. Add all the other ingredients and bring back to the boil, then boil quite vigorously for about 1-11/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until it's reached a chutney-like texture.

Pack into sterilised jars (wash and dry in the dishwasher, then put into a 120C oven for 20 minutes) and seal. I think it should mellow with keeping. Really nice with cheese!


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