Monday, October 13, 2008

canning season

Once again! Not that nothing went on between the last post and this one. Oh well. It's been awhile and that's enough said. I'll get straight to what I've been busy with these last weeks. Canning - for one. It's not been the warmest of summers, but the raccoons let us know that the grapes were FINALY ready to harvest. It took me 4 days to pick them all. During that time we got nightly reminders that there were still more grapes to be picked. The announcement was usually made by Bunior - our boston terrier pug mix - barking at the loud snarling noises coming from a family of 6 raccoons prowling the roof. This would lead to dear husband Michael abandoning his sleep for a midnight chase on the roof - armed to the teeth with a broom no less. (Where's that picture?!) Of course it was raining and the tomatoes and blackberries needed to be picked too. AND I caught a couple of hippies trawling my orchard - ladder and all! - for apples. So I've squeezed, juiced, sauced and jellied wheelbarrow loads, but there's still more to be done. Luckily I came across a recipe for chutney that uses apple, grapes and most important - green tomatoes. Of course I've tweaked it so much, since it was too bland for my taste, that it's now my: 

all green tomato, apple and grape chutney          

6 lbs green tomatoes, chopped
10 green apples, peeled, cored, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
4 cups apple cider vinegar
5 cups dark brown sugar
1 tbsp. picillo peppers
1 fresh habanero pepper, finely diced
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp mustard seeds, lightly crushed
1 tbsp turmeric
3" piece juicy ginger root, diced
2 cups golden raisins
21/2 lbs green seedless grapes

Throw everything, except for the grapes, into the largest pot you own - I use a 7 qt Le Creuset cast-iron pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 hour. Add the grapes and continue simmering until the chutney starts to thicken. Stir frequently! 
Meanwhile, prepare your jars and lids. I fill my 14 qt stock-pot with as many washed jars and bands and as I can fit, cover them with water and bring to a boil. When the chutney starts to thicken I boil my tongs, ladle and a funnel as well, before removing the hot jars and bands with the tongs to a clean dish towel on the counter. Quickly fill the jars, dip the lids in the boiling water, close up the jars and invert them on the towel for 5 min. Turn them over - they should pop pretty soon. Add more jars and bands to the boiling water and repeat the whole process until all chutney has been canned. 

Great with chicken or lamb, or on ham or roast beef sandwiches.