It is chutney making season. Our quince are falling, i need to do something with all the gooseberries in the freezer, and before i know it our feijoas will be ripe. These astringent fruits are all prime candidates for a bout of chutney making. I've not made quince chutney before, but have been meaning to ever since i saw a recipe by Kristina Jensen in an NZ Lifestyle Block magazine a couple of years back. Given that we have two quince trees, and thus no shortage of fruit, i
decided to make a double batch, since a single batch calls for only 3 large quince. The recipe stated that the given quantities provided about five and a half cups of chutney, but my double batch resulted in 12 x 300ml jars of the stuff. If i'd known how much would be produced i would have started with a single batch. Luckily i know plenty of people who enjoy chutney; i always give my neighbour several jars of different varieties for Christmas, and in return he provides me with some of his farmed venison, and we are both always very happy with the swap. My big brother also seems to enjoy my chutneys, so i think i'll be sending him a 'chutney care parcel' in a month or two, just to make some room in my cupboard (i'm pretty sure he doesn't read my blog, so i'm not spoiling the surprise here!).
Like all chutneys, you need to wait a few weeks before eating to allow the flavours to develop, however all the other chutneys i make taste good fresh off the stove (but definitely get better with age). So after bottling my quince chutney, when i tasted the scrapings from the pot and did not enjoy the flavour i knew there was definite room for improvement. My bottles of chutney sat on the bench for 3 days, staring benignly but annoyingly at me, until i decided the only thing to be done was tip them back in the pot and cook them some more. My quince jam always goes a gorgeous red colour, so i hoped that at the very least the colour might improve from an unappetising orangey-beige to a prettier red. I added chopped dates and crytallised ginger, some cumin seed, star anise and coriander, and also increased the sugar content by half a cup. The last step was not something i did lightly - i'm well aware of the need to be decreasing our sugar intake, but there's also no point making 12 jars of something you are then not going to enjoy eating (and feel guilty passing on to other people in the guise of a 'gift').
Anyway, i'm much happier with the finished result; it looks, tastes and smells much better.
Expect another chutney recipe or two in the coming weeks.
Makes approx 6 x 300 ml jars.
3 large quinces
2 onions, peeled
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh ginger
1 cup chopped dates
100g crytallised ginger, finely chopped
1 chilli, de-seeded, de-veined and finely chopped
3 cups white wine vinegar
2 cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
1 tablespoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Peel the quinces and the apples, chop into small chunks and put in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
Peel the onions and chop into chunks, then put in a food processor along with the ginger. Process until finely chopped, then add to the pan with the vinegar. Simmer until the fruit is soft. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly then reduce to a gentle simmer. Continue to simmer until the chutney is thick (approx 2 to 3 hours). Take out the cinnamon stick, cloves and star anise and spoon the mix into sterilised jars and seal. Wait a few weeks before eating to let the flavours develop and mingle.