Continuing in this month’s upcycle tradition, Jarod Hermann shares his recipe for making savory chutney out of good fruit about to go bad.
Chutney is an Indian accompaniment for a main dish, consisting of fruit, sugar, acid, salt, and spices. There are many, many kinds of chutney, but we’re going to focus on turning sweet into savory with fruit chutneys. You can use almost any kind of fruit — whatever’s beginning to languish on your counter or in the fridge — tomatoes, pears, apples, mangoes, strawberries, and stone fruits (plums, peaches, apricots) are all good. You can even use vegetables, such as carrots or even onions. Chutneys are very simple to make, and pair well with a wide variety of meals.
I chose to make an apple and jalapeño chutney based on what I had in the kitchen. The sweetness of the apples, especially when paired with cinnamon, compliments the spice of the peppers quite nicely.
To make a small chutney (two cups) you’ll need:
• 2 Cups too-long-in-the-sun fruit of your choice. I used 3 Fuji apples; peeled, cored and
cut into approx 1 in. cubes, plus a handful of cherry tomatoes.
• An onion, chopped
• 1/2+ bulb of garlic, sliced. I like a lot of garlic and used 3 cloves.
• 5 jalapeños, seeded. Be careful and wear rubber gloves here, or wash your hands
thoroughly after. It can be a surprise to remember seeding chiles after rubbing your eye.
• 1/4 cup dried fruit, such as apricots or raisins, to bolster the flavor (optional)
SWEET: 1/4-1/2 cup sugar
SOUR: One teaspoon of citrus zest, and 1/4 cup cider vinegar. You could also use white
or red wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice, to taste.
SALT: Start with a teaspoon and add more if needed
SPICES: Any of these are good to use, it’s up to you to taste what you’ll wish to craft.
Garam Masala, a little curry powder, cumin, black pepper, paprika, cayenne, mustard
seed or mustard powder, a little freshly grated or powdered ginger, a stick of cinnamon,
and a bay leaf or two.
Make Your Chutney
Start with a medium hot saucepan, a tablespoon of olive oil and the garlic. Stir frequently until browned. Add the onions, fruit, and jalapenos. Stir well and add the vinegar and a little water, about 1/4 cup. Keep tending it, cooking slowly until the mixture begins breaking down. Then add the spices and zest. Cover and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally for about an hour. Voilà! Savory fruit chutney.
It should be known, you can make a purely onion chutney in this manner. Onions are full of sugar and the sweetness comes out very nicely when cooked.
Chutney can be eaten on sandwiches, over eggs, with potatoes, in a meatloaf or burgers, with cold meats, or even by itself on toast or crackers. Put some in a pot of plain rice to make a pilaf. Add to sour cream or other bases to make a dip. It’s a condiment! Get creative. I especially enjoy it along side a fresh curry. It is amazing to see mediocre or even good Indian take-out become outstanding with the addition of your own secret chutney.
Bonus Recipe: Bachelor’s Jam
Bachelor’s Jam could be considered the sweet counterpoint to chutney. You guessed it, it’s an old recipe and named for the items most commonly found in a single man’s cupboard: sugar, booze, and spoiling fruit. Again, you can use almost any fruit on the edge, but berries are especially nice.
In an airtight container, put your peeled, cored, pitted, and pieced fruit with 1/4 C of sugar on the top, douse in the hard stuff (brandy or vodka works nicely), and stick back in the fridge. Essentially the concoction turns into preserved fruit jam. You can enjoy it fresh over ice cream right away, or come back in a week or two and enjoy the fruit syrup with a rich chocolate dessert. You can always add more fruit to the mix, being sure to add sugar and liberally adjust with liquor. While the taste and consistency changes over time, Bachelor’s Jam has a nearly eternal shelf life.
About the Author
Jarod Hermann is a recovering Chef living in San Francisco. He is now open about his food preferences and liberally applies them to his friends and family. He also plays musical instruments.