This week on the blog we’re kicking off the harvest season with a recipe for a delicious roasted yellow plum chutney with lime, chili and spices. If you think all chutneys are turgid jars of murky fridge lurking goo then you should give this one a go.
I’ve been getting the kitchen ready for the harvest season, sorting the jars and bottles cupboard, digging through the pantry and the freezer to see whats left to eat from last years preserving efforts and browsing the cook books working out what I’d like to preserve this season.
Folks look at the food I turn out of this little kitchen and the pantry full of preserves and say – “Wow I wish I had time to do that – I just don’t have time to cook”. I hear this a lot. I hear our lives are getting busier and busier, but I don’t think they are.
Sure other people lay claim to a good chunk of your day – work, family, friends. And technology can fool you into thinking you’ve got to engage with it, soaking up more time. But in my experience our brains work pretty well to prioritise how we spend our hours and we each get 24 of them – every day. What’s all this got to do with plum chutney? Humour me and you’ll get the recipe.
Making the food I eat is the single most important thing I do. I rarely delegate the responsibility for nourishing myself to the guys who make processed food and takeaways. The food I make tastes better, costs less, has no crap in it or on it, and bottom line I believe it keeps me healthy.
I think about that at this time of year when I spend more time in the kitchen – time I could be doing other things with. But when I look at my preserves I know they are my fast food, my ready meals. Spending time drying, freezing and bottling the harvest now means I can grab a jar of soup on my way out the door to work on a cold winters morning and have a steaming hot meal for lunch in less time that it would take me to go get a coffee and a sandwich from the cafe (and at a fraction of the cost).
So if you believe you’ve got the “busy life disease” and are too busy to make the food you eat, either fresh or preserved, I’d encourage you to do some re-prioritising. You might just find it saves you time in the long run. I believe it will also save your money and your health.
Roast Yellow Plum Chutney with Lime & Chili
This is a punchy little number of my own invention. Putting half the plums in half way through cooking gives a bit of texture to the finished chutney, like those posh French jams with the delicious bits of fruit still in them.
You can scale back the chili and spices if you prefer it milder. I use it in a lot of “non-chutney ways” like a spoonful in a vinaigrette for an Asian style salad dressing or mixed with tomato paste for a zingy pizza base and in marinades where you’d use curry paste. Think of it more like a spicy condiment in the fridge.
This recipe makes 6-7 small jam jars and I’d recommend small jars as a little goes a long way.
- 2.4 kg of plums
- 300 grams raw sugar (you can scale this right back if you prefer – see tips at the end)
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon of dried chili flakes
- 50 grams of crystallised ginger
- juice of 2 limes
- 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
- 200 mls of white wine
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 100 mls of white wine vinegar
- Heat the oven to 160°C . Take half the plums, wash, stone and cut them half. Place them in a single layer in a roasting pan.
- Toast the coriander and cumin seeds until they start to smell and then grind them roughly with a pestle and mortar.
- Mix the ground spices and the rest of the ingredients in a bowl until the sugar is dissolved and pour over the plums, mixing together with clean hands.
- Put the plums in the oven for 45 minutes
- Wash the jars and vinegar proof lids and prepare the other half of the plums in the same way
- After 45 minutes take the plums out of the oven and add the remaining plums, mix and return to the oven for a further hour and a half, keeping an eye on it to make sure the fruit doesn’t burn.
- Remove the plums from the oven, leave the door open for a few minutes to reduce the heat in the oven and then put the glass jars in the oven briefly to sterilise and heat them for 5 minutes. If the oven is too hot the jars will crack. Check to make sure the temperature is around 60 – 70°C when you put the jars in.
- Put the lids in a heat proof bowl and pour boiling water over them to sterilise them too.
- Take the jars out of the oven one by one and fill them with the chutney which will still be plenty hot.
- Wipe any chutney from the rim with a damp paper towel and screw the lids on tight.
- Store in a cool place and refrigerate once open.
- Don’t worry if it looks runny when it comes out of the oven still, it does thicken on cooling
- If the fruit is burning before the sauce has reduced you can drain some sauce out of the pan and reduce it in a pot on the stove.
- Try using palm sugar instead of raw sugar
- The raw ingredients without the plums make a fantastic marinade and flavouring to have in the fridge.
- You can use any type of plum and any mixture of spices that takes your fancy
- You can reduce the sugar right down but don’t reduce the salt and vinegar as they are the preservative