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By Mary-Nell Bockman
Putting up for the winter was something I always associated with Little House on the Prairie until I planted a garden and found myself buried in tomatoes in August. Now I belong to a CSA farm, with an incredible variety and bounty of produce, and I live in northern New York where winter is serious. So I fill my chest freezer and canning cupboard with all sorts of preserved food: frozen soups, stews, sauces, veggies and berries, pesto, canned applesauce, tomatoes, pickles and jams. I love filling glass jars with the taste of summer.
One of my favorite "preserves" is an easy and delicious chutney, using a recipe from my mother-in-law, Brenda, who lives in Bath, England. Chutney is a staple over there and my English husband and I make vats of "Mum's Chutney" to use throughout the year. It's a delicious accompaniment to all kinds of Indian dishes, hamburger, turkey, and cheeses. I spread it thin on bread instead of mustard or mayonnaise for sandwiches. It's also a welcome gift to take to a dinner party – my friend, Margie, eats "Mum's" right from the jar. You can see why I make so much.
Chutneys are basically fruit, vinegar, sugar and spices in varying proportions. There are lots of recipes to try in books or online. Brenda's uses apples and is a good one to get you started. This recipe works in a small batch to store in your refrigerator and eat within a couple of weeks. Or make the full recipe if you want to can a dozen half-pint jars for the winter.
The original recipe includes notes to the cook, including "OPEN WINDOW" and "WEAR OLD CLOTHES."
I usually make two batches at the same time (double the ingredients). If you do that, you'll need two large pans and 12 half-pint canning jars.
Makes 6 half-pint jars.
Peel core and chop the apples into small pieces.
In a large stockpot, combine vinegar, sugar and salt and bring it to a boil.
Add the apples, ginger (or marmalade) and raisins. Return mixture to a boil and then simmer for 45 to 60 minutes. It should thicken quite a bit.
You can add other spices or fruits; there are lots creative ways to make chutney.
Or stick with the tried and true — it's delicious.
For short-term storage in the refrigerator, let the mixture cool and then put into jars with a good seal. Store in refrigerator for up to three weeks.
To store for longer, follow instructions for preparing half-pint canning jars and lids, using the water-bath canning method. Make sure the mixture is hot when filling jars.
I joined Essex Farm CSA near where I live in Essex, NY, about eight years ago. CSA stands for community-supported agriculture, a type of farm operation whose shareholder members share the benefits and risks of farming.
"Distribution" is on Fridays, all year long, and members know the calendar by what's available — January to March is stored root crops, April is wild greens, May is lettuce and spring greens, June is strawberries and baby beets and carrots, and July through September is farm-fresh paradise, with plenty to freeze and can. I also get dairy, eggs, meat and grains in my share. You can find a CSA near you by using the Local Food Directory at the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. You can read more about Essex Farm inThe Dirty Life: On Food, Farming and Love a book by Kristin Kimball, one of the farmer-owners.
Mary-Nell Bockman gardens near Essex, NY, where much of the food on her table comes from farms in the area.
Last updated: 7/12/19
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