With the harsh summer we've had in Baltimore I wasn't sure if my pear trees would hang in there and produce fruit. Half the leaves dropped and it looked like fall in the middle of July. But, praise God, we had a great pear harvest, and early.
We have three pear trees, two figs and one apple on Stone Hill "farm". Our little third of an acre feels like a farm compaired to our non-existent yard in DC. We live in a 160 year old stone home that overlooks the Mt. Vernon Mill.
The whole canning process is pretty fast. Last summer was my first attempt and it took me forever. This year I felt like a pro and was done in a few hours. Make sure you have two big lobster pots. And start the process by sterilizing your cans. Boil in two batches. One just with the glass jars, two with the lids and rings. Leave them out of the way to dry while you make the chutney. It took me three stores to find half pint Ball jars. Save yourself the trouble and go to Walmart. They have absolutely everything you need. Especially this. My darling friend The Party Bee sent me this kit with a jar of Pepper Jelly in the mail and a sweet note that said, "I'll trade you Pepper Jelly for Fig Preserves." She and another southern girlfriend came to Stone Hill last summer, on the hottest of days and we felt like our Victorian Grandmother's canning, sweating and enjoying the company and good, hard work.
The pears are apple-like and perfect for making chutney. I peeled half and left the skin on the other half. I just love the color of these pears and think I need to find this in a paint color.
I'm partial to ginger and the smoky flavors of curry powder. When making our fig preserves last summer, I thought, if I can can figs, I know I can make chutney. So I went to my wall of cookbooks and got out all of the most southern ones I could find. I grew up on Major Grey's Chutney baked over chicken and served with basmati rice. We would put raisins, toasted almonds and crunchy noodles to top off each dish. I love that my mom got us into curious flavors at such a young age. I didn't find any recipes that had mangos or apricots in them, so I looked on the jar of Major Grey's and winged it. I also used The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook as a guide. It is one of the best gifts I've given my husband. He loves it and I get to use it.
Heat up your spices and wet ingredients first.
7 hard pears, 4 peeled and cored, 3 with skins
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worchestershire Sauce
1 tablespoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 cup dark or golden raisins
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons curry-you could use half a tablespoon if you don't like curry or leave out all together
Juice of one lemon, room temp
Lemon peel, cut in thin strips
3-4 fingers of giner
1 cup dark Karo syrup
8 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 Vadalia onion, small
1 cup Turkish apricots, minced in food processor
1/2 pound of pecans
Chop and add all the other items together. Cook for 30-40 minutes until it thickens slightly. The house will smell amazing.
The most important part is not to touch the lips of the jars. Use the funny red looking thing that goes into the jar so you can ladle in your chutney, making sure you leave about an inch at the top.
There are all types of "thwimp-pidges" in the canning kit. The grabby tongs allow you to put the hot jars back into the water to seal them. The tong, tong, tong, tong, tongs are great for scooping up the lids in the water. The jar buster, is the red dipped one that seals the ring onto the lid and you have to make sure they are very, very tight. And finally the little magnet-a-doodle helps you grab the lids without touching anything.
Finally, put the jar back in a large lobster pot to boil. Fill above the jars by 1.5 inches. Boil these babies for at least 30 minutes. Remove them from the hot water with the grabby tongs and wait to hear the pops of the lids. A glorious sound. If they don't pop, put them back into the water and do over.
Thanks to my sweet friend Kimberly for inspiring me to can last summer and our trusty pal Marge for her sous chef expertise.