Hot Apricot Chutney

Now is that magical time of year where everything comes in from the fields. It means pressing the refresh button on all the preserves – to see what has been used, or not – and to plan what is to come  – as much as possible that is.

Cottage Country North makes this great hot apricot chutney that I have wanted to copy for a couple of years now. I could not last year, however, as there were no apricots to be had due to the spring frost earlier that year.

This year is a different story however. Last weekend I scored a couple of baskets of Ontario apricots and yesterday I sorted out how I thought the recipe should go. here was my line of thinking:

I start with my basic chutney ratio: 1:1:1 fruit:vinegar:sugar. In this case I wanted to really accentuate the apricot flavour, so I cut the vinegar and sugar in half giving a 2:1:1 ratio. Next, I did not want the vinegar to overpower, so I made a batch of white wine vinegar (1 bottle (750ml) plus 250ml white vinegar in a 1.5L jar) and used this. One gets the subtle flavour of white wine, yet there is enough vinegar so that it is clear that it is not wine.

Salt is added to taste, but it works out to about 5% of the apricot weight. Finally, hot peppers: I used a combination to heat it all up: cayenne, pickled hot peppers from last year, fresh scotch bonnet peppers.

I’m trying to follow what I have learned doing other similar preserves and dishes: where you want the flavour to jump out at you, add it at the end, and do not overcook it! Here, the peppers were added at the end.

I’ve also tried using Pomona’s pectin for this. It was a little bit problematic, as I wanted to be able to taste the entire mix to get the taste right before applying the pectin. This involved sugar, but the directions call for the pectin to be added to the sugar. I reasoned that since I had cut back on the basic sugar ratio,that it could take some more and could only get better.

I had one further idea: What else could give it some oomph? Garlic? Ginger? I tried both – and ginger was a clear winner. Ginger is definitely something to add at the end of the process as it was something I wanted to have out in front when eating. I used a combination of both fresh ginger finely diced and my insanely intense dried ginger I made a couple of months back.

The recipe was divided in half, one part taking the ginger, one part straight up apricot chutney.

Here is the final recipe:

Ingredients (ratios in brackets)

Fresh apricots 2k (2)

brown sugar 1k (1)

white wine vinegar 1l (1)

hot peppers (to taste)

salt 100g (5% of apricot weight)  – but taste it!

Optional: fresh ginger to make it hot apricot-ginger chutney

Process:

Pit and thin slice apricots; cook until they have broken down

Prepare jars and water bath as you would for canning. This quantity makes about 3L of chutney.

Add wine vinegar, sugar, and salt. Simmer briefly, and taste/adjust for sweetness. The salt is only for flavour enhancement – you should not really taste it. Take off the heat.

Finely dice, add hot peppers/pepper flakes/cayenne until the mix has the desired heat.

Follow directions on your pectin recipe  – usually adding pectin, bringing to a boil until dissolved, removing from heat, canning and boiling. Since there is so much vinegar in the recipe it should keep for a number of weeks once opened.

And the result?

I like!

Its definitely different than the inspiration chutney. The original is made with dried apricots, and as a result there are chewier more intensely apricot bits in it. It also uses vinegar and not wine vinegar as its base, and so has a stronger taste. In mine the wine vinegar makes it more mellow. I find it curious that in my version, the heat catches up to you – whereas in the original, its more initially apparent. I am thinking I could have added more heat, but then maybe not. My family doesn’t like it TOO hot. Finally, I’m using Pomona’s Pectin, and this delivers a different texture than other pectins. Although jellied, it breaks up easier, and is smoother

Next time:

  • I like the idea of using dried apricots as an addition to the fresh. I’d probably use 250g to the 2kg of fruit.
  • I’d like a little more heat to it.
  • It could also be sweeter. I’m thinking the sugar should be 75% of the fruit weight.
  • I’d like the vinegar to be slightly more prominent. I would try a mix that is 75% white wine vinegar, 25% white vinegar.
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