Tag Archives: fruit

Apple and raisin chutney

27 Jun

Originating from India, chutney is truly one of the best condiments there is. No sauce can truly compare. Sweet or spicy, chutney is your food’s best friend. Southern Indians eat idli (steamed rice cakes) and thosai (Indian pancakes)  with spicy chutneys — usually coconut, tomato or mint. Though dhal curry is also often added to make the meal less dry, chutney is undoubtedly the main attraction.

Sweet chutneys are quite different and are almost always made from fruit — mango is a popular Indian sweet chutney —  and are eaten with Indian breads and also rice.

From India though it may be, the popularity of chutneys also spread to the West. As stories go, chutney was imported from India to Western Europe in the 17th century. These are primarily the sweet chutneys, not so much  the spicy ones.

Let’s focusing on sweet chutneys for now. Actually, they’re sweet-sour. The consistency of chutney is similar to salsa or relish . It almost always contains fruit or vegetables (crushed or mashed),  sugar, vinegar and onions. Other ingredients like spices are also added: cardamom, mustard seeds, cinnamon … the choices are endless.

Basically, the ingredients are mixed and then simmered in a long, slow process. Time is what you must have when you embark on a chutney project.

The good thing about chutney is you can practucally use any fruit you wish: from strawberries to apples to tomatoes and mango — you can create a fruit chutney of your choice and chances are it’ll turn out great. You can also use blemished (not rotten) fruit: the fruit will be crushed and cooked for a looooooooooong time so it’s ok.

Chutney can be chunky or smooth and can keep refrigerated for about a month.

Apple raisin chutney (from One Perfect Bite)

4 cups cooking apples (like Granny Smith),  peeled, cored and chopped.

1/2 cup water

1 cup finely chopped onions

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 can (14.5-oz.) peeled, chopped tomatoes, undrained

3/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons curry powder

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon salt

Place apples in a 3 quart pan with water and cook, covered for about 20-30 mins or  until apples are soft.
Meanwhile, combine onions, garlic, tomatoes, vinegar, raisins, sugar, curry powder, mustard seeds and salt in another heavy bottomed saucepan, low heat. Stir to mix well.
Once apples are cooked, mash apples and add to mixture in saucepan. Mix well and bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Keep stirring occasionally, reducing the heat. let it simmer for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Stir often to keep the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan. The chutney should be thick (though still slightly wet) when done.

Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. Transfer to lidded jars. It will keep in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. It will keep in freezer up to 6 months.

Jam packed goodness

25 Jun

When I told my friend Shirley  I would be making jam, she asked if I’d been watching re-runs of Freinds a lot recently. You remember the episode when Monica goes mad over jam making and ends up making and bottling jars and jars  of homemade jam (and joey dipping his fingers in the mix and contaminating a couple of batches?). I wish I were Monica: that woman can cook up a storm and still look gorgeous.

Well, actually it wasn’t Monica I was channeling.  Our  theme for next month’s (July’s) Don’t Call Me Chef (a monthly column in The Star) is preserved food. Not cooking with preserved food but preserving food: it can be pickles, jam, preserved fruit … the choices were open.  Thing is, I’ve never really done it before so it required quite a bit of legwork: I’m  a bit anal that way.

I decided to start my research by making a simple jam. Actually, I ‘ve had jam on my “things I have to make)  list for quite a few years now. But though poeple say lists help you focus and achieve your goals, my lists just keep on growing … they grow at a rate I doubt I’ll ever be able to catch up. Don’t believe it? I have 150 items on my “things I have to make” list!

So anyway, I did a lot of reading up on jam making and turns out it isn’t complicated. Traditional jam is fruit cooked, usually to a pulp, with sugar to set. That’s it. What you would need is fruit (basically any fruit you fancy though I would be wary of durian for jam!), sugar and lime/lemon juice or vinegar). Some add pectin (to set the jam and get the right consistency) but this really depends as the natural pectin from the fruit is usually quite sufficient for the jam to set.

The sugar content is usually quite high and though you, like me, may consider cutting down on the sugar (fruit is sweet, after all) you may not want to be overzealous in doing so as the sugar actually helps preserve fruit. Reducing the sugar may result in reducing the preserving power of your jam.

I chose to make mango jam simply because I love mangoes are they are in season at the moment and easily available.

Mango Jam

1 kg ripe, sweet mangoes

1 cup sugar

1 tbsp lemon juice

Peel and cube mango. Blend 3/4 of the cubed fruit to a puree. I didn’t blend all the fruit as I wanted the jam a little chunky. Mix the pureed+cubed jam with the sugar in a stainless steel bowl and let it stand for 30 mins or longer (to allow the flavours to mix).

Using a heavy bottomed pan (cast iron, anodized aluminium, copper are good) so that the heat is distributed evenly and the sugar does not burn. Add the mango+sugar and cook (med to high heat), stirring ocassionally so that the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom.

The mixture will soon bubble up: big, rolling bubbles that rise up the sides of the pot. Should there be a light-coloured foam on the surface, skin it off gently. Stir every now and then. The almost jam should start to  boil down and smaller, thicker bubbles will replace the boisterous ones.  bubbles.

How long to boil? Well once it boils down and the jam starts to leave the sides of the pan, you can test the consistency  by putting a teaspoonful of the hot mixture on to a cold plate. It should set almost immediately. If it’s the consistency you like, it’s almost ready. If not, continue boiling for a bit.

When it reaches the consistency you like, add the lemon juice and stir it in. Turn  off the heat and  ladle the jam into the sterilised jars – douse the jars and the lid with boiling hot water. Seal the jars tight, place them upside down in about 4 inches of hot water for a few minutes to seal shut. When the jam is cool, store in a cool, dark place or in the refrigerator. The jam  should last for about 6 months  if properly sealed. Once opened it has to be refrigerated.