Apple and Sultana Chutney

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I have to say I cannot resist a bargain and I love a good preserve.  There is something so satisfying to me seeing a row of jars filled with the goodness of abundant produce.  It is particularly satisfying when it has come from your own garden.  At the moment my little city garden is not particularly fruitful, I am ashamed to say the weeds have taken over and it is crying out for attention.

So back to the preserves, I make jams, chutneys and pickles all year round.  The idea is that it is a way of storing and prolonging the life of surplus produce, when it is in season and at its best.  Last week apples were on special for 29c a kilo so I couldn’t resist buying a few, kilos that is!

This chutney is one of the first I ever made it comes from a book called Good Home Preserving and  I love it because the yield is great and the ingredients are few.  It tastes fairly festive with the flavours of ginger and cinnamon shining through.

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Like a lot of chutneys it benefits from a maturing period allowing the flavours to infuse and develop in the jar.  I recommend at least 6 weeks but if sealed correctly in properly sterilised jars it will be good for at least a year if not longer.  While it will last you through to the following apple season, it is nice to share, and homemade preserves do make a lovely gift especially when teamed with an assortment of other homemade goodies to create a hamper or as an alternative to the uninspiring bottle of wine or chocolates when heading to dinner at a friends’.  Get crafty and decorate the jar with a piece of cloth tied down with a ribbon or piece of twine and maybe a little personalised card?  However you enjoy it, have a go…I promise it is so easy and well worth it.

So the only real labour is the apple peeling and chopping, it can be a little monotonous if you attempt it alone so I suggest getting the rest of the family involved, or throw a chutney party.  Invite some friends over and make up a batch together, while it cooks you can catch up, then when everyone goes home they get a jar to take with them.   Take it in turns and before long you will have a pantry stocked with a variety of jars packed full of jams and chutneys much tastier than anything you could buy at the supermarket.

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 Last weekend we had a glorious day of winter sun so we took the apples and a couple of chopping boards outside and set up a production line.

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Once peeled and cored, chop the apple into small pieces then throw into a large preserving pan or stock pot with the remaining ingredients.

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Stir together and place on the stove, slowly bring to the boil.  Keep stirring until all of the sugar is dissolved then reduce to a simmer with the lid off.

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Stir intermittently, it will start to get darker in colour and become more homogeneous as the apple starts to break down.  The picture below is after one hour of cooking.

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After a further half hour of cooking turn the oven on to 140’c/280’f.  You need to now sterilise the jars, lids and any utensils you will use to aid your jarring process Eg. a ladle, jam funnel etc.

  • The ladle is easy, give it a wash in hot soapy water, rinse, then you can just stick it in the chutney and leave it in there for at least 10 minutes before jarring and the heat from the chutney cooking will sterilise it.
  • For the jam funnel or jug, make sure it is oven safe then wash in hot soapy water, rinse  and place in the oven for 10 minutes.
  • The jars also need to be washed in hot soapy water and rinsed.  Then place them upside down on a baking sheet lined with a clean cotton tea-towel.  Pop them in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes or until the chutney is ready, it is important that the jars are hot when you pour the chutney in.  If the glass is cold the temperature of the hot chutney will crack the glass.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Note: I reuse regular jam, pickle mayo etc. jars, occasionally I do use proper preserving jars, which have thicker and therefore stronger glass.  Just be aware that if you are reusing jars as I do there is a small risk that with they will crack or shatter when they are heated as they may have flaws or be made of inferior glass.  It has only happened once to me but it can happen.

  • With the lids, check them for any rust or mould, give them a good scrub in hot soapy water, rinse then place in a saucepan and cover with boiling water.  Pop the lid on and boil for 10 minutes.  Leave covered until you need them.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Okay, so now you will be into the last 10-15 minutes of cooking and it is imperative you keep a watchful eye on the pot, stirring the chutney at regular intervals to keep the sugars from sticking and burning.  It is ready when the bulk of the chutney resembles thick apple sauce with a little liquid remaining the consistency of which will resemble maple syrup.  The syrup will coat the back of a spoon with a thin layer and if you run your finger through it a channel will remain.  It does thicken as it cools so ensure some liquid remains.

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At this point pull the jars out of the oven and start filling, put the lids on as you go so as everything cools down you will achieve a vacuum seal which will keep all your hard work fresher for longer.

The tricky part now is having the patience to allow your chutney to mature.  It will be completely edible right now but will taste eve better if you can wait 6 weeks!  Good luck and let me know how it goes.  I am on a mission to spread the home preserving bug and would love to hear if I have made a convert of you.

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Apple And Sultana Chutney

Makes approximately 3.5litres or 7 x 500g  jars
prep time – 30 minutes (depending on how many people are helping!) cook time – 2 hours

 

Ingredients:

  • 3.5kg apples
  • 500g sultanas
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 litre malt vinegar (you can also use white vinegar)
  • 1.5kg white sugar
  • 1 heaped tsp ground ginger
  • 2 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tsp salt

Method:

  1. First peel, core and chop all the apples and place in a large stock pot or preserving pan along with all of the other ingredients.
  2. Stir together and place over a low heat continuing to stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Raise the heat and bring to a simmer.  Cook for two hours or until the chutney is thick and smooth like apple sauce.  In the first hour and a half you will only need to stir it sporadically but in the last half hour you will need to keep a closer eye on it, stirring it regularly to prevent the sugars sticking and catching.
  4. When you are happy with the consistency ladle into hot sterilised jars and seal immediately.
  5. Leave to cool then label the jars.  Allow to mature for 4-6 weeks before eating.  Store in a cool dark place.  Once opened store in the refrigerator.

Creamy Tomato and Tuna Pasta

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Apologies for the lack of posts over the past couple of weeks, it is amazing how time disappears when there is a baby in the house!  I remember after I had my first son I wondered what I used to do with all the spare time I had, how I wasted so much time and if I could go back in time I would tell kid-free me to read more, take up more hobbies, do all those things I thought about doing but never got round to.  Now, I laugh at one child me, and those of you out there with more than two kids I bow down to you, you are amazing, I am truly in awe!  I really don’t know where the time goes, I seem to be in a whirl of chores and errands that spin me from one week to the next.  This dinner is one I tend to pull out towards the end of the week when the fridge is starting to look a little empty and I am racking my brains trying to think of something to cook.  It is something the Kiwi and I used to make a lot while we were backpacking as nothing (but a bit of cream cheese which is totally optional) needs to be refrigerated so I usually have the ingredients stashed away in the pantry for an emergency meal.

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Start with an onion, a red pepper and a tablespoon of olive oil.  Pop them into a frying pan over a low heat and cook them gently until they are softened, about 5 minutes should do it.

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Add in plenty of garlic and cook until the whole kitchen smells of garlic, then stir in a bit of tomato paste.

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That is most of the work done, now you simply pour in a can of tomatoes, fill the empty can with water and add it to the mix.  Season liberally with salt and pepper and add a teaspoon of sugar to counter the acidity of the tomatoes, then turn the heat up and you can let it simmer away for 10-15 minutes until it has reduced by half.

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Once it has had time to reduce cook 300g of dried pasta according to the instructions on the packet, most dried pastas take around 10 minutes to cook which gives you just enough time to finish off the sauce.

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To the sauce add the can of tuna, I use tuna in springwater so for this recipe I don’t bother draining it as the small amount of water in the tin acts a bit like a fishy stock.  Stir the tuna in and allow it to cook until heated through.  Make sure you taste the sauce again and adjust the seasoning if necessary.  Reduce the heat and drop in the cream cheese, as it melts keep stirring the sauce to incorporate it then toss in a handful of chopped parsley.  When the pasta is cooked, drain it and toss together with the sauce,  dish up and garnish with a a little more parsley and a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil.  Et voilà.

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Creamy tomato and Tuna Pasta

prep time: 5 minutes, cook time: 25 minutes
serves 4 – cost per serve $1.25

Ingredints:

  • 1 tbs rice bran oil or other nuetral oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 400g tinned tomatoes
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 300g dried pasta
  • 1 185g tin of tuna in springwater
  • 3 tbs cream cheese
  • 1 small bunch of parsley
  • drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Method:

  1. Start by pouring a tablespoon of oil into a frying pan over a medium heat.   Sweat the onions and red pepper in the oil for about 5 minutes.  If they start to brown turn the heat down and continue to cook until translucent.
  2.  Add in the garlic and cook for another minute or two, until fragrant.
  3. Pop in a tablespoon of tomato paste and stir it into the onion mixture before adding the tinned tomatoes.  Fill the empty tomato tin with water and pour that into the frying pan as well.
  4. Roughly chop the tomatoes with a wooden spoon then turn up the heat and bring to a rapid simmer allowing the sauce to reduce by half.
  5. While the sauce is reducing, put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta.  When it comes to the boil toss in a teaspoon of salt and cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet.
  6. When the sauce has reduced add in the tuna, continue to cook until the tuna is heated through then reduce the heat, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary .  Stir in the cream cheese until melted then throw in a generous handful of chopped parsley.
  7. Drain the pasta and toss together with the sauce.
  8. Divide between four bowls and sprinkle with a little more parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.