The arrival of fresh cranberries at my local market always puts me in a festive mood and signals that the holiday season is just around the corner. Every year I begin stalking these deliciously tart berries in mid-October and have even been known to make unnecessary trips to the market just to see if there were any to be had. Finally last week there they were in all their ruby colored glory. Joy! I scored a half dozen bags of fresh cranberries and happily made my way home, feeling as though I’d won a prize.
Because the North American cranberry season is so short, this year I’ve vowed to get serious about preparing a variety of cranberry preserves to enjoy throughout the year. This recipe for cranberry apple chutney, which is heavily adapted from a recipe for cranberry chutney found in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, is my opening salvo in this mission. The appealing combination of tart cranberries, sweet apples, ginger, cardamom, allspice, and hot pepper used here would work well as an accompaniment for roast chicken, pork, or lamb. It would also be ideal as part of a fall/winter cheese course, served with fresh goat cheese or cream cheese.
4-5 cooking apples (or a combination of apples and pears, if you prefer), peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)
A 2-inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled and grated (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
1 teaspoon orange or lemon zest
1/4 cup raisins
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon allspice
3/4 – 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/4 cups white or apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup apple juice or water
3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (12 ounces)
- Assemble sterilized Mason jars totaling 1 quart in volume and their corresponding lids. I used four half-pint jars for this recipe.
- In a large stainless steel or enameled stock pot, combine all ingredients except the cranberries, stir well, and bring to a boil. Boil the mixture on a medium heat burner for approximately 10 minutes. Stir in the cranberries and cook, stirring occasionally, for an additional 5-10 minutes or until the mixture takes on a syrupy, jam-like consistency. Remove the pot from the burner and allow it to cool for 10 minutes.
- Carefully spoon the chutney mixture into the prepared Mason jars, wipe the jars’ rims and threading with a damp paper towel, and firmly screw on the lids to finger tight.
- If you intend to use all of the chutney within one month, you may simply allow the jars to cool to room temperature and then store them continuously in the refrigerator. However, if you plan to store them at room temperature for later use, they must be processed in a hot water bath, as described in step 5 below.
- Place the sealed Mason jars on a rack in the bottom of a large stock pot. Fill the pot with water to a depth one inch higher than the tops of the jars. Place the pot on a burner set to high heat, bring the water to a full rolling boil, boil for 10 minutes, and then take the pot off the burner. Carefully remove the jars from the hot water, and check their seals by pressing down on the center of each lid, which should be slightly concave and not flex. If that is not the case, boil the jars for a few more minutes. When done, set the jars aside to cool to room temperature. This recipe makes one quart of chutney and can be doubled.