There’s a sense of urgency at this time of year. Something primal, a scrap of DNA left over from hunter-gatherer days that makes us forget there are grocery stores [and, bonus, they’re open all winter!]. We see produce, feel a chill in the air, think: uh oh, frost, starvation, scurvy, ice storms, must stock up, and before we know it we’re surrounded by heads of cauliflower and cabbage, bunches of beets and carrots, more green beans than seems right, zucchini and peppers, potatoes, eggplant, onions, broccoli, did I say carrots?, celery—celery root for god’s sake. And it has to be hauled home all at once because next week might be the week the farmers are no longer at the market or all they’re selling is those crocheted toilet paper roll dresses.
It starts small. You put up the odd jar of relish, quince jelly, pear and apple butter, you feel organized in that way you feel in the garden in spring—when the weeds are just starting to show, when plucking one here and there is enough to keep things tidy and every year you think: heck, this isn’t so bad, I must be getting better at being organized [uh huh]—and then suddenly there’s so much fresh food in the house it’s impossible to imagine eating it all and one day it seems entirely normal—what? what’s the problem?—to be making vats of borscht in your pyjamas at six on Sunday mornings, all day spaghetti sauces, cranberry, rum and raisin conserves before lights out; jars of pickles and marmalades taking precedence over everything, over reading. The pop of lids is both a joy to behold and annoying and your back throbs and the vinegar makes your eyes water but the good news is that should you fancy a bit of cheddar one December evening, you will be able to eat it with a green tomato and apple chutney. Not to mention a rosemary infused carrot if the mood takes you.
And that, dear friends, is what it’s all about.
So happy harvest trails and best of the season!
GREEN TOMATO AND APPLE CHUTNEY
(makes about 6 – 7 8oz (250 mL) jars
(from Well Preserved, by Mary Anne Dragan)
5 C finely chopped green tomatoes (1.2L)
2 C finely chopped apples (457 mL)
1 C finely chopped onions (240 mL)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 C currants (240 mL)
1 C brown sugar (240 mL)
1 C cider vinegar (240 mL)
1 TBSP mustard seeds (15 mL)
1 1/2 tsp dried chili flakes (7.5 mL)
1 tsp salt (5 mL)
1 tsp ginger (5 mL)
Prepare the preserving jars.
Slice the lemon very thinly, discarding the ends and seeds. Chop very finely.
Combine all the ingredients in your preserving pot. Simmer over medium heat for 25-30 minutes, or until thickened. Stir often to prevent sticking, especially during the last 10 minutes of cooking time.
Remove from the heat. Spoon the chutney into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch (1.2 cm) head space. Wipe the rims clean. Seal according to manufacturer’s directions. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
(A traditional English condiment, this chutney is excellent in a sandwich with any type of meat or cheese. It is a great accompaniment to beef dishes such as meat loaf, scrambled eggs or macaroni and cheese.) ~ from Well Preserved, by Mary Anne Dragan