Back in June when I decided this was going to be The Year I Preserve Everything I bought a copy of The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving, mostly because I was taken by the "small batch" part. Small batches mean I don't need to haul out the gigantic, baby bath sized canning kettle and attempt to move it, full of water, from the sink to the stove. Small batch means not waiting an hour for the water to heat. Small batch means I can toss a few half pint jars in my stockpot and can without drama. Awesome.
Also, this book had lots of intriguing recipes beyond the usual Ball Blue Book staples , things like Thai Chile Sauce and Madras Pickled Eggplant. So far I've made the barely cooked strawberry jam and the lovely blueberry marmalade and been quite pleased. Recently after halving and pitting 22 pounds of Tilton apricots and running them through my dehydrator, I was looking through the book again and came across red pepper and apricot chutney. Home dried apricots are nothing short of amazing and I needed to figure out a way to prevent myself from endlessly snacking until they all disappeared in less time than it took to dry them. I'm happy to report that I still have most of my apricots after the clever idea of sealing them up using my friend's Food Saver. Somehow busting into one of those lumpy, vacuum packed bags is a lot more daunting than sneaking a few out of a plain old jar.
But luckily I held a couple of cups of dried apricots aside to make this chutney which has raisins, apples, sweet bell peppers, candied ginger, and onion to round out the flavors. I found it disappointingly cloying at first, so added in about half a head of chopped garlic, some mustard seeds, and a dash of turmeric which provided the perfect foil for all that sweetness and the resulting chutney is something I am flat out crazy for. I used some in the dressing for curried chicken salad and it was delicious. The author suggests pairing it with cheddar cheese, and what I am loving right now is a thin layer of this chutney along with some smoked turkey on a crusty roll. I just started a fresh batch of chevre and I'm thinking a thin smear of chutney and a thick splodge of chevre on a cracker might be about the finest thing ever.
Unlike my tomato chutney which takes forever to cook down, this took no more than 30 minutes so it's really not a huge production, making it the kind of project I like best. If you decide to give this a go, do let me know how it turns out. And while we're at it, what are your favorite summer preserving projects? Let me know in the comments--thanks!
Printable recipe here.