apple cranberry raisin chutney

I have to admit, I’m not huge on chutneys, but I do love the quick, not very pickled ones — I also love savory chutneys as opposed to simply sweet ones. They don’t last as long as the ones with lots of vinegar and long cooking times and mustard seeds and all that, but their simpler and brighter tastes suit me right down to the bottom of the jar.

Most Westernized “fresh” chutneys are quite high in sugar, and often feature sour notes as well as sweet, as you probably know. The nice thing about making your own is that you can cut the sugar and balance the sour and sweet as you like.

J’s sister (#3) and BIL gave us quite a few lovely apples from their trees yesterday, which have filled several containers now over at their house. I think they might be English Bramley apples, which have a venerable history, especially in this area of of the country. The apples were enormous. Number Three says that they don’t keep very well, though, and should be used almost right away once they’re off the tree.

I thought about making a tart, and then maybe a cake…and then thought about J’s habit of eating ham/gammon sandwiches, and decided to make a quick savory chutney, something easy and uncomplicated that will set off the ham, at least in small amounts.

This turned out to be a “cupboard emptying” chutney and consisted of what I had left over from my last baking spree, pretty much. Adjust the amounts by what you have, throw in whatever seems good to your taste. My base recipe, like so many of my base recipes, came from Cooks Illustrated, my favorite cooking website. I usually order their annuals every year, but the website is so handy, especially while we were traveling so much. Who needs to carry all those cookbooks around when you have the web? (However, I kept the Cooks Illustrated annuals during The Great Emigration Purge.)

Apple Cranberry Raisin Quick Chutney

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
5 very large cooking apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
3 small eating apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 package dried cranberries (dried cranberries are generally sweetened, so I knew I’d have to cut the sugar content overall to allow)
1/2 package raisins (lots of people prefer golden raisins or sultanas, but that was what I had in the cupboard)
1/2 cup or so light brown sugar (actually, I just dumped in what was left of the small package)
1 tablespoon vinegar (I usually use cider vinegar, but all I had was white)
1/2 heaping teaspoon salt

In large pot, heat the oil at medium high and add the onions, cooking until transparent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add all other ingredients. Cook until ingredients give out moisture (about four or five minutes), and mixture boils — or, if they don’t, which mine really didn’t, add water in increments of 1/4 cup until it reaches about the right consistency, which should be very, very thick. Lower heat and simmer mixture until apples are tender and mixture is holding together as a chutney instead of separate ingredients mixed together. Taste and adjust for your preferred balance of sweet and sour. Cool to room temperature and store in fridge. Eat within a week or so. (If you want a chutney that keeps, you’ll have to go the pickling route.)

Now. What to do with the Victoria plums that J’s mother just gave us? Oooh, maybe we’ll just eat them. :)

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