Monday, November 26, 2012

Persimmon Chutney

I set out in my first batch to try to create a Major Gray-style chutney, but with persimmons, rather than mangoes, because they're what I have loads of, fruit from my mystery persimmon tree. There aren't many recipes other than salads for non-astringent persimmons; I did, however, find a few old recipes for chutneys that either weren't meant to be canned for shelf-storage, or were much less complex than the flavors I hoped to put together. So I riffed on Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Cookbook courgette chutney and was pleased with my results, so much so that I've made this two more times already. The acid from the vinegar works to counteract the mildness of the persimmons, and the lime zest adds another acidic, tropical note. Looking for a snack the other day, I dolloped spoonfuls of it on slices of sheep's milk cheese and the combination of flavors was wonderful.

Tangential, but still connected, I buy my black pepper in handy grinders at Trader Joe's. I don't know that TJ's black pepper is any better or worse than any other vendor's, but I love those grinders. After they're empty of pepper, I wash them, remove the label, and fill them with another spice. I have grinders full of coriander and fennelseed from the garden, but the grinder that is most special to me is the one full of cardamom seed. Freshly ground cardamom seed is a completely different beast than pre-ground cardamom; I am tempted to wear it as perfume. The cardamom is what makes this recipe sing.

Persimmon Chutney
You will need:
2 pounds peeled and diced non-astringent, firm-ripe persimmons
1 pound peeled, cored, and diced apples
1/2 pound peeled and diced onion
3-4 ounces raisins
3/4 pound brown sugar
2 finely diced chiles
the finely grated peel and juice of two limes
1 thumb of ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
5-6 grindings of freshly ground cardamom (I don't know exactly what the equivalent of cardamom to use if it isn't freshly ground. My best guess would be a 1/2 teaspoon.)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cup cider vinegar

To make the chutney:
Stir all the ingredients except the vinegar together in a large, non-reactive pot. Cover and leave in a cool place (in the garage if the weather is right, or in the refrigerator, if not) overnight. Doing this macerates the fruit so it keeps texture rather than cooking down into a soup. The texture is very nice in a chutney; it keeps this from becoming a fruit butter or sauce.

The next day, stir in the vinegar, and place the pan over mid-high heat. Cook for forty minutes or so, stirring every few minutes, until the liquid has cooked down to a thick syrup and the mixture is dark and thick.

Ladle the mixture into sterilized jars, carefully pressing it in to eliminate as many air bubbles as possible, lid, and process in a hot-water bath for 15 minutes.

This recipe makes about two and a half pints.


Zora said...

I like the looks of this! And the cardamom grinder is a great idea. Do you put the whole pods in, or do you just put in the seeds? (And if just the seeds, do you hull them yourself or do you buy them somewhere? I only ever see the pods here.)

I looove cardamom, but often balk at using it because it's a bit of a project.

Carrie said...

I can always count on you for a newfangled take on something I love – persimmons!

I’ve always thought they are the most tactile of foods, like the small of a lover’s back or whatever. There is something very intimate about their texture, to me.

Anyway, neat story about your tree and great recipe here. Thanks!

Christina said...

Hi Zora, I buy the decorticated cardamom whenever I can find it. Whole Foods usually has it, and when I come across it at an ethnic grocery, I snag a bunch as well. Hulling the seeds is too much of a project for me too.

Carrie: Persimmons are pretty amazing, I agree. I've been enjoying my mystery persimmons for lunch lately diced with yogurt and a sprinkling of ginger granola. Very yum.

Dave @ HappyAcres said...

I will file this one away until the day when my persimmon trees have more fruit. It does sound like a good way to use those firm persimmons.

I guess the freshly ground cardamom is like fresh grated nutmeg, which has a much different taste and aroma than the pre-ground nutmeg. I don't think I've ever tried grinding my own cardamom. Do you buy the seeds by themselves, or remove them from the pods yourself?