I’m a native Texan with a passion for good food and Texas history. Tex-Mex is a way of life for me, and so is baking!
Holy Apple Rhubarb Chutney, Batman!
Last weekend, some of our dearest friends came over to help us christen our new hot tub. We had a fabulous dinner, followed by pink champagne that had been hanging out in our fridge for a celebratory occasion for over two years. It’s not that we hadn’t wanted to drink that champagne – we just knew we wanted a monumental occasion to enjoy it.
Finally having our dream kitchen finished, and having enough left over in the budget to purchase the hot tub were definitely monumental. Not to mention a testament to my hella good planning and budgeting!
James and I fully recognize how lucky we are, in this economy, to be in the position to have done both of these things this year. And that, in itself, was another reason to celebrate.
One thing that I’m committed to, for us, is to eat the best quality food wherever possible. With only two of us, it’s not always easy to make the most of the food we buy. Cooking for two is really difficult sometimes! But using the most of the more expensive food we buy is one way that we’re able to save money in the long run.
I hate to waste food. And I hate even more to waste money. Money that can go towards things like hot tubs, and visiting Disney World for the 918349340th time. That’s why, a few years ago, I became much better at food preservation. Both through freezing and through canning.
The day after our hot tub christening, the boys headed off to Six Flags Great Adventure in Southern New Jersey. Maggy and I, we headed instead for a girls’ day out, apple and pumpkin picking in Gillette, NJ.
Last Saturday was the kind of day you picture when you think of Fall – crisp, and clear, and with a cool wind. Mags and I could have done without the wind, as they were at about 60 mph at some points, but it really was a beautiful day to be wandering through apple orchards, having just drunk a cupful of fresh-pressed hot apple cider.
We got all sorts of apples: Empire, Fuji, and new-to-us, Suncrisps. They are a hybrid between Honey Crisp and Granny Smith apples. Golden leaning towards green in color, and the taste of them is absolutely exquisite. They’re light and firm, with a sweet taste and just the right acidity.
I fell hard for ALL the apples from Hillview Farms.. so hard that I came home from their farm with nearly 15 lbs. of apples. Tell me people, what on earth am I going to do with 15 lbs. of apples?
Well, the first thing I did was take to my Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. I know what you’re thinking: Applesauce. It’s the obvious choice.
Here’s the thing: James and I are not really applesauce people. We have very different definitions of apple sauce, so we avoid it all together, because one of us just can’t eat an entire jar of it, or even six pack of applesauce pots. I didn’t have any SureJel on hand, so any recipe calling for that was out too. (It was cold last Sunday, I was not about to leave my house!)
That’s when I turned the page to the recipe for Apple Rhubarb Chutney. Guess who happened to flash freeze a boatload of rhubarb when it was in season? Smarty me, that’s who. Hooray for chutney! The book says that this chutney pairs well with any sharp nutty cheese, or as a topping for pork. Cheese? Pork? I’m in.
Believe it or not, the Apple Rhubab chutney came together fairly quickly, and didn’t require a lot of baby-sitting. I let it go on the stove for quite some time until I got it to the texture I wanted. I used every variety of apple we picked, so it’s got some sweetness and some tartness.
And it’s great with KerryGold Dubliner cheese, which I just happened to have a smidge of, thanks to the coupons they gave out at the BlogHer Food Conference. Hooray for Irish cheese!
I enjoyed the chutney with some fresh baguette from our local bakery, the KerryGold Dubliner, and a crisp glass of white wine. To me, there’s no finer meal on a lazy Monday, especially a lazy Fall Monday.
So tell me – what AM I going to do with all these apples? I can’t very well bake 4 or 5 pies, can I? Or can I…
Apple Rhubarb Chutney
taken from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
Makes about 4 8 oz. jars
4 c. diced, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped apples
4 c. granulated sugar
2 c. diced rhubarb, either frozen or fresh
1/2 c. water
Juice of 1 lemon, plus zest
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cumin*
*Cumin is my own addition. I thought it would be nice as we plan to pair this chutney with chicken or pork quite often. Feel free to leave it out.
In a large saucepan, combine apples, rhubarb, sugar, water, lemon juice and zest. Using medium-high heat bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Gently boil, stirring often, for 15 minutes. Lower heat if necessary.
After 15 minutes, add cranberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cumin. Bring to a gentle boil again, stirring often, until thick enough to mound on a spoon (about 15 minutes).
At this point, the chutney is ready to can. Begin by boiling a large pot of fresh, clean water(large enough that water will completely cover your jars). Start with freshly washed and dried jars and lids (I recommend using your dishwasher for the jars). Use a paper towel to dry the lids and bands. Cleanliness is key in canning.
Fill jars with hot chutney, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Remove air bubbles and adjust head space if necessary. Wipe rim with fresh, slightly dampened paper towel. Center the lid on the jar and screw band down until resistance is met. Increase to fingertip-tight. The jars are now ready for the canner, which should be at a rolling boil (212F).
Place jars in the canner, making sure each jar is submerged completely in the water. Bring to a boil again and cover, processing for 10 minutes. Your time does not start until the water is at a rolling boil again. After 10 minutes, remove the pot lid and wait 5 minutes. Then remove jars using a jar lifter, and place on a flat level surface. Do not touch for 24 hours. All jar lids should be concave after 24 hours, with no give.
If any of the lids can pop up and down, the canning did not take. You can try to process again, or simply place the chutney in the fridge and use within a week or two.