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I’ve taken a few week hiatus from the canner as I work on my courses and get the house in shape after the growing season.  But I did buy a big box of apples at the farmers market, and I’ve had my mind set on chutney ever since I got them.

apple-fennel chutneyMy attitude toward chutney might make a traditional Indian cook wince (I don’t know, not having met any recently).  My idea of chutney is simply a whatever-seems-good melange of fruits and vegetables in a spicy brown sugar and cider vinegar sauce spiked with ginger and a little hot pepper.

If that’s not your idea of chutney, my apologies.

I had planned to make a green tomato-apple chutney with a friend, but her tomatoes rotted, so I had to come up with some other mix.  Yesterday afternoon in the supermarket, I saw they’d recently got in some nice-looking big fennel bulbs and that seemed promising, so I picked one up.

Too, I had a bag of organic lemons in the fridge, some onions, sweet and hot peppers, crystallized ginger–all wonderful things to throw in the pot.

The lemons got in cut in half the long way, then sliced thinly, peel and all (no seeds).  Then fennel was also sliced into thin crescents along with a couple yellow onions, and I added a couple minced cloves of garlic.  The base was 3 1/3 cups of cider vinegar and about 1 1/2 cups brown sugar. I threw in a cinnamon stick and some ground chipotle.

I was going to cut the sugar really dramatically from the Putting Food By recipe, but settled for half the sugar called for in that recipe–I like tangy, but my initial super-conservative sweetening was a little too tangy.  Now it’s about right.

Once all the other veggies were in the pot (except the peppers), I started peeling, chopping, and adding the apples as I went.  If you do it this way, some of the apples kind of melt into the sauce, while the later-added ones retain some of their firmness.

In the end, the thing looked a little too brown, so that’s when I used the red and green peppers.  They added some nice color and a good counterpoint to the sweetness.

My favorite part of the chutney is the lemon peel–so tender, but still lemony-tasting in the sauce.  The whole thing is such a great combination of sweet and tangy and spicy that I have to rein myself in from sitting down and eating a pint of it with a fork.

But there was about a half pint left over, and that jar may be emptied before H gets home tonight.



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