When my eldest was an impossibly cute toddler Dan and I planted some scrawny Spartan apple trees around our manse. The saplings were awfully stick-like and we were not so much hoping for an orchard of fruit as some shade and landscaping for our lawn.
Fast forward fifteen years and now my apple trees are abundant with fruit and leafy as can be. We've battled with tent caterpillars, weird lichen-like scabs on the branches and spring snowstorms that battered all the apple blossoms off before the bees could get busy, so this is so amazing to see that our six apple trees have actually borne fruit. And so much fruit it is! Perhaps the long, cool spring and buckets of summer rain are just the right conditions for fruit-bearing.
We don't spray our apple trees and sometimes (alright, usually) don't remember the annual pruning, so the apples aren't pictures of beauty. They are scabby and knobby and you don't just brush them up on your shirt and take a bite after eyeballing some of the unappealing peel. But they do taste nicely tart-sweet and are wonderfully crisp.
My weekend was filled with the task of making applesauce, apple crisp and a velvety brown apple chutney. Peeling and excising out cores and inhabitants from these knobby apples takes a long time, so I didn't put up huge vats of apple products, but I did manage to get four containers of applesauce, 1 9x13 pan of apple crisp and 7 pints of chutney using the contents of only one tree. With five more trees to harvest, I am thinking that my horse and donkey owning neighbor is going to get a bushel of equine treats in the next week.
Chutney is the perfect accompaniment for spicy food, rice dishes and we love a bit of chutney and cucumber raita on the side of our Bhajis. It is also luscious mixed with sour cream for a quick dip or with cream cheese and curry powder for a stiffer spread. I tweaked the apple chutney recipe in my Ball Blue Book canning recipes cookbook and here it is:
16 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into rough chunks
2 lbs. raisins
1 large onion, peeled and rough chopped
2 large red peppers, rough chopped
4 cups brown sugar
3 Tbsp. yellow mustard seed
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
1 Tbsp. crystallized ginger
2 tsp. allspice
2 tsp. pickling salt
2 tsp. hot pepper flakes
5 cloves garlic, peeled and rough chopped
4 cups cider vinegar
Clean 7 pint canning jars and lids. Place in canning kettle and bring to boil. Cover and keep warm while making chutney.
Place all ingredients in a large, heavy-bottomed pot and mix well to dissolve brown sugar. Place on stove and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring often to keep from scorching. You want your chutney to be nice and thick and not runny, so you may have to extend your cooking time if your apples are particularly juicy, as I did.
Pack into hot pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Seal and adjust rings. Place back in hot water bath and process 10 minutes once water has come to a boil again.
Makes 7 glorious pints of chutney.
I have also made this apple chutney with fresh cranberries, cut in half and that is a lovely holiday addition.
I am submitting this recipe to the Slow Food Edition of the Go Ahead, Honey, It's Gluten Free cooking event founded and hosted this month by Naomi at Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried. This thematic event showcases gluten-free goodies and I'm excited to see what slow-cooked treats everyone cooks up this round, which runs until September 30th. Be sure to check back with Naomi for a luxurious and delicious roundup.