Thursday, January 23, 2014

Spicy Plum Chutney

Image from Wikimedia Commons
When I first started developing an interest in canning, I was looking for a way to preserve some of the fruit off the trees in my yard, especially my rather prolific plum trees.

While eating plums fresh are okay, they are not my favorite fresh fruit, so I was looking for ways to use them in other recipes.

Hands down, my favorite thing to do with the plums in my yard is to make plum chutney. So so so SOOO good! And by canning it, I get to enjoy it all year round.

What is chutney, you ask?

Well, chutney means different things to different people, but basically it's a condiment of spices and fruits (and/or vegetables) that is usually both savory and sweet at the same time. It's a fruit or vegetable relish that is served with a main dish to complement its flavors.

Most chutneys you get in Western countries have Indian roots but have been Europeanized, so they're not truly "authentic." Still, these chutneys have plenty of charms. They usually involve cooking fruit, vinegar, onion, garlic, and spices together, then concentrating the flavors by cooking things down in a reduction.

Now, that may not sound that great if you are new to it (fruit, onions and vinegar cooked together?), but it really is quite good. A little sweet, a little sour, a little savory, a little spicy ─ all in one. Goes great with meats and cheeses.

The best-known fruit chutney is probably Major Grey's Chutney, which uses mangoes, onions, vinegar, raisins, lime juice, and spices. (If you've never tried it, you definitely should!)

Image from 
There are many other types of fruit chutneys out there, but my personal favorite is plum chutney.

The best way to eat plum chutney, in my opinion, is on pork tenderloin, which is a good lean cut of pork. There's a good recipe here.

Basically, roast the tenderloin, let it "rest" for a few minutes after taking it out of the oven, then slice it up and serve with the plum chutney on top.

You can put some chutneys on meat before roasting it, but my family agrees that this chutney is much tastier when it is added after the meat is cooked.

The recipe above has you make the chutney fresh, at the same time you are roasting the meat. However, it's also useful to make the chutney ahead of time and then can it. Then it is available whenever you want it, whether or not plums are in season. It shortens your prep work to have it already made and shelf-stable, and the flavors intensify if they are on the shelf for a while.

This is the recipe I use, which is taken from Put 'Em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton. It's a little on the runny side and it's not as pretty-looking as I might like, but the flavor really can't be beat.

Plum Chutney

2 c. cider vinegar
2 c. sugar
4 pounds plums, pitted and diced
2 large sweet onions, diced
1/2 c. diced prunes
2 T. freshly grated ginger
2 T. mustard seed
2 t. salt
zest of one lemon, cut into thin strips
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t. ground cloves

Bring the vinegar and sugar to a boil in a large non-reactive pot. Add the plums, onions, prunes, ginger, mustard seed, salt, lemon zest, garlic and cloves and return to a boil. Simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes.

Can with the boiling-water method for 20 minutes (adjusting for altitude if needed). (Canning directions for beginners can be found here.)



Anonymous said...

Just one question: Since prunes are dried plums, are they there for texture or some other reason?

Well-Rounded Mama said...

Yes, I wondered the very same thing. I don't know. I don't always put them in, or may substitute raisins for them at times. Tastes good either way!