Growing up I always knew that jelly, jams and preserves came in a glass jar. Hell, we used them as drinking glasses when we were done. How all this stuff got in the glass jar however was a mystery. I knew it involved heavy industry, jelly factories etc. and I never related the end result to all the fruit trees I used to see driving around what is now known as Silicon Valley with my parents when I was a kid. This is back when Google Headquarters was a cherry orchard or some such thing, and Cupertino was not known for it's Apples but for it's blackberries.
Looking at the jellies, jams and preserves on the supermarket shelves, I always wanted the good stuff with the fancy lable. The expensive stuff. My mother however had other ideas similar to this...
It seemed the only way I was going to get good organic stuff was going to be if I made it/grew it myself, and so I set out to learn how to can. As long as one minds the cleanliness and sanitation rules, canning is pretty dang easy and safe. Pretty soon I was scouring around LA looking for fruit in my friends trees, or just generally foraging. When I couldn't find anything, The Santa Monica Farmers Market was always there, full of whatever I needed at any given time.
One of my favorite things to make has always been apricot chutney. Nothing beats the fresh perfume of perfectly ripe apricots, bit of course those aren't available to everyone nor are they around any time of the year, so it's always great to find a recipe that works with either fresh fruit or dried fruit. I've made this chutney both ways for years. It can be canned for future use, or put in the fridge where it will keep for a few days.
Here's What You Need:
1/2 lb dried apricots or 2 lbs of fresh apricots
3 Tbs lime juice
2 Tbs ghee or unsalted butter
1/2 tbs minced ginger root
1/2 tsp kalonji aka black onion seed
2/3 cup dried currants
1 3inch piece of cinnamon stick
1/2 cup dark brown sugar or jaggery
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp kashmiri chili or cayenne
Here's What To Do:
If you've got dried apricot halves, cut them into quarters and soak them overnight in 2 cups of hot water and 3 Tbs of lime juice.
If you're using fresh apricots, pit them, and halve them, and cut them into slices.
Place fresh sliced apricots into a bowl and set them aside.
Chop the ginger finely.
In a pot or saucepan heat the butter. When it's hot and foamy add in the ginger, black onion seeds and cinnamon stick.
Stir everything around for a few seconds and add in the apricots...
...3 Tbs of lime juice...
...and 1/2 cup of water...
If you're using the dried apricots, just dump the apricots and the lime and water soaking mixture into the pot at that point.
Turn the heat up a bit and bring everything to a boil.
Then turn the heat down and let it simmer. Stir it every now and then so nothing sticks.
The apricot chutney is done when it turns thick and glossy and the apricots are soft.
If you are not canning the chutney, you're done. After it cools put it into an airtight container in the fridge and use in with int the week.
If you're canning, sterilize your jars and lids fill them with hot chutney.
Then put them into boiling water for 20 minutes to process them.
When the lids "pop" they're sealed and ready for shelf storage...or you can just enjoy right away.
There are many resources for canning online here or you can check out Mrs. Wheelbarrows excellent book . either way once you start canning you'll never want to go back to off the shelf again. Coming up next, fresh vegetables right out of the garden Indian style.
Follow along on Twitter @kathygori