Sunday, June 28, 2015

Summer's Here, It's Mango Chutney Making Time!

   I grew up in a household where jelly and jams and pickles came in a jar from the market, and cranberry sauce wasn't the "real deal" unless it stood ringed and shivering upright on on the plate. As a working class city kid the idea of making your own condiments was not even on the table. Everyone was working too hard to bother with heavy duty cooking and it was easier and cheaper for my mom to open a box, or buy jelly in glasses that we later used for tableware. By the way, one could also get peanut butter that way back in the day and we had a whole set of "good glassware" that had started out as Big Top Peanut Butter Jars.

Do you know how much peanut butter I had to eat to get a Thanksgiving setting??? Don't even ask. As to Big Top, this is what it looked like... sort of American Horror Story Light.

No wonder I don't like clowns. The idea of actually buying jars and filling them with something one made oneself, was not even contemplated. So, when I got older I became interested in doing just that. I learned to make pickles. I cured olives, and bacon. I made my own  jams, jellies, and chutneys.

   Canning, if one is careful, is actually a really economical and fun way to do home cooking. It's even better if one has access to fruit trees, or one's neighbors do, or one lives in a place where one can forage and glean. Short of that, there are sales and Farmers Markets where things can be bought in bulk. I used to make chutney of the loquats that grew all over the place when we lived in Santa Monica. Friends used to bring them to me to can, and I hated to see something that could be eaten rotting on the sidewalk, or in someones' back yard. Here in Sonoma, I live in a paradise of fruit and vegetables, some of which I grow myself. I don't raise mangoes however and right now we're in peak mango season which means they can be gotten cheaply.

   Whole Foods had a sale on organic mangoes the other day, at 12 dollars a case. One case (12 mangoes) makes 5 pints of chutney, or 10 half pints. When one cooks as much Indian food as I do I'm always opening a bottle of my own chutney for dinner parties, so this is a sweet deal. I have a garage full of canning jars all ready to be filled each season, and I was way behind schedule as we were renovating our new house last Summer and so no canning got done. The pantry was bare. I bought a case of mangoes and got busy.

For those of you who don't want to can , you can also make this chutney in a smaller amount, and keep it in the fridge, just halve this recipe, you'll have plenty left over but it keeps for a while.

Mango Chutney

Here's What You Need:
12 mangoes
5 cups of jaggery  ( you can also use dark brown sugar)
4 Tbs salt
4 Tbs coconut or other vegetable oil
2 Tbs black mustard seeds
4 tsp  crushed cumin seeds
4 cloves
3 cinnamon sticks (about 3 inches each)
1 tsp turmeric
1 to 2 tsp of kashmiri chili

Here's What To Do:
Peel and cut the mangoes into cubes.

Add in the salt.

Add in the brown sugar, or jaggery.

Stir everything together well.

Set it aside and turn you attention to spices.

Put the cumin seeds in a mortar and crush them. They don't have to be pulverized, just sort of smashed.

 Add in the cloves and cinnamon.

Set this aside.
Place a large stainless steel pot on the stove, add in the vegetable oil and heat it up. When it's hot add in the mustard seeds.

When the mustard seeds start to pop, add in the cumin, cinnamon and cloves.

Give everything a stir and add in the mango, salt, sugar mixture.

Bring things to a boil, then lower the heat to a strong simmer, add in the turmeric.

Cook at this heat, stirring occasionally so nothing sticks. You want to cook this for about 1 and 1/2 hours, or until it thickens.

When it's a nice thick blend add in the Kashmiri chili.

Taste the chutney for heat, if you like more kick add a bit more. The best way to do this is start with the smallest amount of chili and then add to that until you're happy with the flavor.
If you're making chutney and not canning it, you are done. Let it cool and then put it into a sealed container in the fridge til you are ready to use it.
If you are canning, sterilize your canning jars  (I run them through the sterilize cycle  on my dishwasher) then put them in boiling water.
Here's an easy tutorial on how to do this. Just click here.
When my filled sterilized jars are ready I place them in the boiling water bath.

place the lid on the pot and boil them for 20 minutes.

Lift them out and let them cool, you will hear the "pop" of the lids as they cool letting you know you have created a seal.

Label your jars and store them in your pantry, or you can open one and enjoy right away.
Canning is simple once you get the hang of it. I've been doing this for about 20 years and there is a lot of information about this both on line and in books.
Mrs. Wheelbarrows Practical Pantry is a great guide to all things preserving, I highly recommend it.

Once you've tried this ancient skill I promise you'll get hooked and start looking around for anything that can be shoved in a jar. Meanwhile you have all that delicious chutney to enjoy.

Coming up next, more chutney recipes, and great easy Indian recipes for Summer entertaining follow along on Twitter @kathygori

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