Update: I have been informed that what I thought were apricots were actually nectarines. I guess fruit identification is not my forte. Nectarines are basically a variety of peaches that have hairless skin. The recipe works great with nectarines and because they don’t have any fuzz they don’t have to be peeled. I have made changes throughout the post in parentheses to correct my error.
Chutney is a condiment that I never seem to have when I want it. Curry is a great way to use leftovers (or frozen shrimp) and obviously needs a bunch of spices but these are already in the cupboard so it doesn’t seem reasonable to go shopping just for the supporting actor. Last year I made an enjoyable peach jam that was great for breakfast but chutney seems like an even more interesting way to preserve stone fruit.
At the beginning of September there was a collection of mainly apricots (nope, they were nectarines) and a few peaches ripening on the kitchen counter that needed to be preserved before they spoiled. One of the best secondary benefits of using apricots for a preserve is that, unlike peaches, they don’t need to be peeled. Most chutney recipes (this one included) call for unripe or under-ripe fruit that adds more texture and acid flavour. I compensated for the ripeness of this fruit by adding more lime juice and reducing the sugar slightly.
In the cookbook 1,000 Indian Recipes by Neelam Batra I found an authentic recipe for apricot chutney. One adaptation that I made came from a lack of one ingredient. Not even my deluxe spice kit from The Spice Trader has kalong seeds (aka nigella) so I omitted them.
I have written before about how preserving batches always seem to yield a half portion that ends up in the fridge instead of the preserving kettle. This can be a good thing in that it allows the cook to sample the product without breaking the seal on one of the full jars. Even after cooling this chutney retains its complex and exotic spice flavours that I’m sure will play well with this winter’s curries.
Apricot (or Nectarine) Chutney
Adapted from 1,000 Indian Recipes by Neelam Batra
- 1/4 C ginger-garlic paste
- 3 TB canola oil
- 3 sticks of cinnamon
- 6 black cardamon pods crushed lightly so that the skins break open
- 8 whole cloves
- 2 -3 small to medium onions, cut in half through the poles and then quartered through the poles and thinly sliced to yield quarter moons
- 3/4 tsp ground fenugreek seeds
- 5 to 7 fresh green peppers, minced
- 1 kg (~2 lb) apricots and/or peaches (and/or nectarines), pitted and roughly chopped (peaches should also be peeled)
- 2 TB kosher salt
- 1 1/2 C sugar (reduce to 1 1/4 C if using ripe fruit)
- 1/6 C fresh lime juice (add a TB or two of lime juice if using ripe fruit)
- 1/6 C white vinegar
The garlic-ginger paste is an combination of peeled garlic cloves and and a equal amount of peeled and sliced fresh ginger processed (with a 1 – 2 TB of water) in a food processor. Store bought is acceptable.
Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat and cook the whole spices for 1 minute. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until they take on a good amount of colour, about 7 minutes. Add the ground spices, garlic-ginger paste, and minced chiles and cook for 2 minutes.
Gently stir in the fruit, sugar, and salt, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the sugar melts and begins to draw liquid from the fruit, about 3 minutes. Bring the heat back to medium-high and cook the chutney for about 15 minutes until it thickens and the taken on a darker, golden colour. Be careful to stir enough that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
Add the vinegar and lime juice and boil over high for 2 minutes. Pack into pint (500 ml) jars–the recipe should roughly fill four jars–and hot water process.