A year of canning has passed by in a blink. A flurry. A flash. Pick your cliché, but my point is basically, how the hell is it December already? How is this possible? While we’re asking questions, I have a few more on my mind if you’ll indulge me. Why do people love Glee so much? Will Callie and Arizona reconnect? Will Santa refinish my bathtub? And, finally, how is it possible that I have a nearly 3-year-old child (and can I keep calling her the Babylady?)
I signed up to take part in the Tigress Can Jam to get more confident in canning and, as a fledgling blogger, to find community with other bloggers. I knew it would be a challenge but I really didn’t expect it to be as much fun as it was!
Searching books and websites for interesting recipes. Speculating on what the upcoming month’s special ingredient would be. Endless canning conversations with Briggs (that I’m sure were super annoying to the Ladyfriend and Double S.) Incredible learning. Pouring over the Tigress’ monthly roundups and reading everyone’s entries. Compiling my own roundups of recipes I’m certain I’ll make next season. Meeting fun people. And, of course, eating and sharing the goods!
For the final month of the Can Jam, the Tigress chose dried fruit. People, I frickin’ love dried fruit! Love, love, love it. I freaked out on all the possibilities! Jam! Chutney! Compotes! Conserves! Boozy dried fruit!
Until my little head exploded. Then I couldn’t make a decision to save my life. In fact, I had to take a break and make some fruitcake. Think of it as a precursor to my dried fruit assignment.
Now, knock it off with the nay-saying. I was one of those before Alton Brown’s fruitcake came into my world last year. This stuff is so good. No bizarre jellied/candied “fruit.” Just real, dried fruit. Real citrus. And booze of course. What’s not to love?! Skeptics, give it a go. You won’t be disappointed. Moist. Boozy. Not overly dense. Perfection. It is now hanging out in the dark with some brandy. (In case you are curious I used a combination of apricots, cranberries, raisins, currants, cherries and pistachios. Ed. note: all other nuts are the devil.)
I narrowed my choice to a chutney and then spent an anxious morning trying to decide what kind of chutney. In honor of the Tigress (& all her hard work organizing the Jam), I finally chose one of her recipes that she debuted back in March – Onionz Limone Chutney. I used dried figs instead of apricots because I was in a figgy mood.
Figgy Lemon Chutney
- ½ pound red onion, diced
- ½ pound lemons
- 4 & ½ ounces dried figs, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 & ½ inch piece of ginger, peeled
- 4 dried chilis
- 1 jalapeño
- 7 ounces sugar
- 1 tablespoon brown mustard seed
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 cup golden balsamic vinegar (it called for white wine but I didn’t have any)
- ½ cup port (optional)
- Prepare jars. (3 half pints)
- Juice and seed the lemon, saving juice.
- Scrape all the flesh from the lemon rind – compost that. Dice the cleaned rind/peel.
- Peel garlic and ginger. Mash it up with the dried/fresh peppers however you like. I used a mini-prep.
- Mix everything except the port into your pot (including the lemon juice). Heat slowly until sugar melts than turn heat up and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer until thickened. It took me about 30 minutes. You’ll know it is done when the chutney parts a bit when you swipe a spoon through it.
- Add port and stir for a few minutes until thickens up a bit again.
- Place into prepared jars leaving ¼ inch head space. Hot water bath process for 10 minutes.
- Flavor will be best after a few weeks of resting time.
I think I am going to love this chutney. It is chewy, spicy and sweet. I added the port as a random afterthought (*). I’ll see if I can taste the port it in a few weeks when the flavors have settled into themselves and each other.
On a grilled cheese today it was divine. Homemade bread. Buttered outer crevices. Sharp white cheddar. Slather of chutney. Heavy blissful sigh.
*The addition of port could be blamed on the fact that by the time I was finally to the canning point all I wanted to sit in a corner, rock back & forth and drink. Alone. The Babylady was being the downside of almost-three rather than her usual awesome self. I’d been slapped. Manipulated. Food had been thrown. Milk had been purposefully spilled. I had been asked “why? why? why? why? why? why do I ask so many questions? why? why? why?” about 7, 581 times. It goes without saying that there wasn’t a nap. It was getting ugly. And then… I realized I was out of canning jars. And I was car-less. And it was pouring rain. That was the last straw. I did what only a desperate canner would do – I proceeded to empty all my partial jars in the fridge into other containers and actually handwash the to-be-used jars. It was desperate times at Grow & Resist.
Anyway, thank you so much for following along. I’ve canned my last item of 2010. What is in store for 2011? Will there be another Can Jam? Something like it? In the meantime, as the Babylady would say, “Peace Out.”