Pickled fruit and chilli chutney
So you're producing lots of delicious fruit and the family is eating it as fast as possible while it's at its best. Plus you've been earning ‘brownie points' by sharing with friends and neighbours and there's still some left over. Then you filled the freezer with juices and nectars and there's no more space left. What's next? Well you can't waste it – if your plants ever hear about that they could all decide their efforts are not sufficiently appreciated and go on strike! And in addition, you'd like to be able to enjoy your produce at times outside the normal cropping season.
The following which I've been making for years now will use some of this bounty, and give you a tasty sweet and sour garnish that can be stored for several months.
- 475g vinegar
- 11g sweetener (I use ‘Sugarless liquid sweetener’ containing 5.9% Na saccharin)
- 225g dried dates, chopped
- 450g deseeded fruit pieces (eg pawpaw, peach, apple, pineapple, grapes etc)
- 3 medium onions, finely diced
- 1g each of powdered turmeric, nutmeg, chilli, garlic
- 2g powdered ginger
1. Place all in a saucepan, bring to the boil and then simmer for 30 minutes with occasional stirring until it thickens.
2. Use a stick blender to reduce to a smooth thick paste.
3. Pour into Fowler Vacola jars and seal.
4. Place in a pressure cooker with a trivet, add sufficient boiling water so that at least half the height of the bottles is immersed.
5. Bring to the boil, put on the lid and allow to steam for at least 10 minutes before closing the vent and taking up to pressure.
6. Sterilise for 10 minutes, then allow to cool at its own rate to avoid glass breakage or chutney overflow.
7. When all pressure is released, carefully remove jars and allow to cool.
8. Test each for a valid vacuum seal. If OK, you should then mark the processing date on the bottles.
9. They can then be stored at room temperature for many months without any deterioration or microbial spoilage.
- The high acid content, mainly from the vinegar but also to a lesser extent from the fruit, means that as each jar is opened, it remains usable and healthy for weeks when kept in the fridge.
- The pre-steaming step before pressurisation is necessary to ensure all the contents are brought up to 100°C. if you use big jars or bottles you may need more time to reach this equilibrium. Pre-steaming also evacuates all air in the jars.
- If you don't have a pressure cooker, then the acid conditions of the chutney will probably mean it will be usable for a number of weeks if simply kept in the fridge. Storage time will be further extended if you pre-sterilise the jars/bottles. It will be even better if you simmer (ie 100°C) all filled jars/bottles for sufficient time as this temperature will kill almost all bacteria. It's a harder task to achieve sterility as product pH rises above pH 4.5; this is due to spores that need 120°C for 15 minutes for an effective kill.
- Glass bottles other than Vacola can be used but disadvantages are – thinner glass is less able to withstand pressure differences, narrow necks might make filling harder, seals quickly deteriorate and lids can rust. Vacola jars have very thick glass, seals are re-usable, lids are stainless steel and a vacuum seal is achieved flawlessly.
- To save time, I usually make a double batch as storage life is excellent.