You know when you make a new recipe for the first time there’s always that apprehensiveness and insecurity? You find yourself questioning your previous knowledge, triple checking recipes every five minutes, reading blogs about how not to f**k it up and envisioning how it could all go wrong. Okay, maybe that’s extreme. As that typical saying goes, it’s not a lobectomy…or was it it’s not rocket science…ahh you get the point. It’s chutney. I’ve made jam before, what possibly could go wrong?
Well it all started off nicely. I knew when I made a plan to tackle making a new recipe with peaches everyday, chutney would be on the list. I’ve always been curious about tomato chutneys so I knew that would be my base. Its tart undertones would be a perfect accompaniment to the sugary, tangy peach. I laid out all of my ingredients neatly, hopeful to take in progress snaps when I got a call from my mother…I had noticed it was getting pretty dark outside and the looks of some mean storm was brewing, so I knew her call had something to do with this.
“Are you inside?” She asked in a nervous tone.
“Yes mom, I’m inside. I’m just making chutney…”, I responded while heating the olive oil in the pan.
“Well I’d like you to stay inside okay…and where’s Lorne, ” she said.
“Mom, it’s fine…he’s at work,” I replied with the same irritated demeanour I would have used at the age of 16.
“Well you should tell him to come home and not ride his bike…it’s going to be a big storm. Also please try not to use the electricity…And I’d prefer you not leave the house tonight…okay” she insisted with her typical Jewish Mother nagging tone.
“Okay mom. Got it…I’m staying inside. Love you.” I hung up the phone and of course the oil started smoking.
So I quickly checked the different inspiration recipes and started tossing in my first ingredients…well there went my plan to take progress shots. For the next hour I nursed the pot of fragrant, slowly simmering ingredients, like a watch dog, not leaving its side. Suddenly I was awakened from the aromatic coma. My cell phone was ringing and it was Lorne.
“This is bad…” he said as I heard him pressing buttons on his phone.
“How bad could it be…” I was interrupted by the sound of a picture message coming in.
“Check that out,” his voice was elated but nervous.
“I can’t make it out…what is it.” I said as I squinted and tried turning the phone to make the picture out, even bending my head as if it was a Magic Eye game.
“It’s my cab with water coming up to the door. I’m on the Lakeshore…it’s bumper to bumper. It looks like I’m going to be awhile,” he said as I heard the cab driver in the background chatting an alternate route with him. “Can you check the backyard?”
“There’s no way it can be that bad…but I’ll check.” I mumbled as I walked over to the window to look out, but couldn’t see, so I put on my shoes and opened the door, almost geting knocked over by the heaviness of the downpour. Once I wiped the rain from my face I looked across the patio and noticed things to be a bit different…There was a pool in our backyard and objects were floating by, reminiscent of a scene from Jumanji. How was that possible? It was only an hour before when I looked outside and now there’s a river in my backyard? I looked for some buckets, stacked them up and knew what the rest of my night entailed. I peered over at the chutney, it gurgling back at me, still very loose and not setting as quickly as I had hoped.
Lorne finally got home and after a quick bite, we put on our rain boots and headed out into the jungle, formerly known as our backyard. The worst of it had stopped, but that annoying kind of spitting rain persisted throughout the night. All we could think about was the water seeping into the foundation of this 110 year old home, that likely couldn’t handle over a thousand gallons of water pushing against it. We then spent the next three hours, with the spirit of a sailor battling a storm on the high seas, shovelling water by the buckets into a near by drain. Our neighbours noticed our struggles and started to help. Eventually we realized it was futile. As we’re at the lowest point, every time we took water out, more would seep in from the other neighbours side; who neglected to deal with his wading pool, tisk tisk.
So we trudged back towards the house, our clothes soaking, our spirits dampened and bones aching. After drying off I went back to my chutney that had been patiently simmering away and noticed it was still not setting. I decided to stay up another hour, encouraging it with tricks from blogs, but nothing. So I gave up. Heartbroken, I spooned it into jars, feeling absoltely defeated. It still tasted great, but didn’t have that oozy, sticky texture that you come to expect from most chutneys. There’s nothing worse than spending money on ingredients and it not turn out the way you hoped. I went to bed that night, strangely more upset by the chutney than the pending flood that kept Lorne up all night.
Suddenly it was morning. We ran to the back window and the water was gone. It disappeared (we later found out where to, when the power went out that next night, but that’s another story). This good fortune energized me to try at the chutney once again. So I emptied its contents into the pot, squeezed some lemon juice in (acidic levels are sometimes needed to help the coagulating process), brought it to a boil and simmered for another two hours. I went back, and like the backyard the night before, there was only a little change. I decided enough was enough.I spooned them into the jars, burning myself along the way and sealed them in boiling hot water bath.
I was hoping I would be able to write about the recipe that day, but I wasn’t going to share unless it was right. Fast forward to yesterday…two days later. I look over at my chutney and it’s solid. Of course! Jam/Jellies/Chutney’s typically come together after being sealed in the jar after sitting for 24-48 hours. I was ecstatic, already starting to plan what we’d have for dinner.
I whipped up a recipe for some chicken burgers with a ramp mayo (recipe coming soon). Snapped open the jar, shoved in the spoon, and placed it near my lips. The smell was intoxicating. Not able to wait another second I spooned it into my mouth and the taste was electric. Tangy, Sweet, slightly sour with some kick. I wanted to cry. I did it. We survived backyard tsunami the two nights before and my chutney turned out just as I’d hope, or maybe even better.
So I hope you get to enjoy this chutney just as much as I did, but without the drama.
| INGREDIENTS |
Yields 2 Quart Mason Jars
- 5 large globe tomatoes
- 2 large free stone peaches
- 1 whole medium sweet onion (cut into thin slices)
- 2 green pepper chopped and seeds removed
- 1 dried red chilli
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (black or yellow
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon white sesame seeds
2 cloves minced (removed before you put in garlic
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons finely grated ginger
- 2.5 teaspoons fine sea salt (and more to taste if needed
- 1 1/4 cups unrefined raw sugar
- 1/4 cup of brown sugar
- 3/4 cup (185ml) apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp of lemon juice
| DIRECTIONS |
- Remove the little core at the bottom end of each tomato using a sharp knife. Score a crisscross on the round end and place into a large glass/ceramic bowl. Pour over enough boiling water to cover and leave for 45-60 seconds. Drain off water and rinse tomatoes under cold running water. The skins should now slip off easily. Remove skin and finely dice the flesh. Do the same method for peaches, but only score the x on the top. Finely chop the peaches and set aside.
- Cut a whole medium onion into thin strips and cut those in half. Set aside. Chop garlic, hot pepper and grate ginger.
- Heat oil in a large heavy-base saucepan over medium heat. Add mustard and fennel seeds, when they start to pop add in the black sesame seeds and cloves, stir briefly then add in onion.
- Simmer onions on medium low heat until very soft and transluscent.
- Remove cloves and add garlic, ginger and chilli. Cook, stirring constantly for 30-45 seconds or until fragrant.
- Add salt, chopped tomatoes, chopped peaches, sugars, vinegar and lemon juice. Give it all a good stir, bring up to the boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for until liquid has disolved and contents have started to gel together. This can take anywhere from 2 hours up to 6. It all depends on the environment and whether the chemistry was right going in. So aim for two hours, but watch constantly and stir every 10 minutes in the first hour and every 30 minutes after.
- While simmering prepare your jars to be sterilized. Make sure that there is no rust around the rims and that the jars are very clean. Place in a pot of water, right side up with an inch of water above and bring to boil. Once boiling leave in for 10 minutes. Carefully remove from water and dry out all excess water with a clean cloth. Once the chutney is ready, remove from the heat and transfer to sterilized jars. NOTE – jars and contents going in should be the same temperature or glass will crack. Add chutney to jars, with an inch of head space. Clean rims with a clean wet towel and tighten lids.
- Now process the jars in a boiling pot of water for ten minutes, then carefully remove with proper tongs, or dump water out and place jars on a heat proof surface to cool. You will like hear a ping, which means the jars have sealed. If you don’t no worries, as long as you can’t press on the top and move it, then your jars are sealed. You will see a concave.
- Will store for 3-6 months in a cool dark place. Once jars are opened use within 2 weeks. If you don’t want to bother with sterilized jars simply transfer the chutney to a clean glass jar, cool and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.