Sunday, May 27, 2012

Mango Chutney

About 10 years ago, I came across a recipe that looked interesting, but called for an ingredient I'd never tried - Mango Chutney. After a bit of searching, I found it in a local store and to my delight discovered that I really liked it! Over the next couple years, I bought several jars but then was dismayed to learn that the brand was no longer available. 

I tried several other brands over the next year or so, but just never found one I liked as much. I kind of felt like Goldilocks while I was trying them. One was too hot and spicy, one was too hard as it used under-ripe mangoes and one was a bit on the bland side. 

Nothing was "just right"!

So, I went looking for a recipe to make my own. I'd never tried something that ambitious on my own before but I wanted my Mango Chutney!! There are lots of recipes for it, but I finally decided to go for this one.

This is an adaptation of a Peach Chutney recipe from the August 1998 issue of Canadian Living. I've switched the peaches to mango but you could also use pears or a combination of mango and pear. The original was also double in size. I have made the full version a couple of times but if you don't have a decent sized canner or don't want to have to process large amounts, this is a better option.

This recipe could also be cut in half again. If you do half of this recipe, you could substitute 1/2 cup orange juice or 5-Alive (Mango or Citrus work best) for the whole orange but the real orange and the zest provide a much better flavour.

This chutney is delicious served with poultry, fish, pork or ham. It is great as a alternative for relish on burgers or hot dogs. It also makes a great dip for chicken tenders!

Mango Chutney

1/2 cup raisins (Thompson, Sultana or Golden)
1 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon curry powder (for a mild chutney)
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
2 large garlic cloves finely chopped or minced
1 large orange
1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
4 1/2 cups diced fresh ripe mango (This will be about 5 medium sized mangoes peeled and pit removed. Don't worry if it is closer to 5 cups when cut)
2 cups diced apple (2 medium sized apples, cored but unpeeled)
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup diced sweet red bell pepper
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar

Soak the raisins in warm water for about 15 minutes then rinse, drain well and air dry on a paper towel till needed.

Combine the mustard seed, salt, cloves, cinnamon, curry powder and ginger. Set aside, along with the garlic for later.

With a zester or a fine grater, zest the orange peel onto a plate. You should have 1 1/2 - 2 Tablespoons. Peel the orange, discarding the pith. Section the orange and remove as much of the remaining pith and membrane as possible, then cut the sections into small pieces. (I just use my fingers to tear them but do it over a bowl so you don't lose any of the juice!)

In a large pot, combine the chopped orange, orange zest, mango, apple, onion, pepper, raisins and brown sugar - then stir in the vinegar. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium heat and allow to simmer for about 1 1/2 hours - stirring often (about every 10 minutes). The chutney should be fairly thick at this point.
Add the combined spices and garlic then mix well. Cook for about 15-25 minutes or until very thick. NOTE: If the spices are cooked for longer than 25 minutes, they will lose their potency and the flavour will be lost!)

NOTE: If the chutney is chunkier than you want it, you can use a stick blender or a potato masher to purée it a bit more. (Personally, I use the blender or masher sparingly as I like mine a bit chunky for a nicer variety in textures.)

With a ladle, spoon the hot chutney into processed glass sealer's*, leaving 1/2 inch of space at the top. Carefully wipe the rim of the jar with a paper towel. Seal with processed lids and rings*.

Place sealed jars STANDING UPRIGHT in hot water bath and cover with enough hot water so that jars are about an inch under the water. Boil for 10 minutes then, using jar tongs, carefully remove the jars to a wire rack. Allow the jars to stand on the wire rack for 24 hours to allow the chutney to completely cool to room temperature. The jar lids should also "pop" (indent) during that time. That indicates that the jar is properly sealed. Store in cool dry place for up to 3 years. If any of the jars do NOT seal or once jars are opened they must be stored in the fridge for up to 6 months. Note: If there are not enough filled jars to allow them to all stand up then add some water to another jar and place in center so that the chutney filled ones will not tip over in the hot water bath.

Makes about 4 1/2 - 5 pints (9-10 cups)


*TO PROCESS JARS, LIDS AND RINGS: Wash all of the jars, lids and rings then place in a canner or large, deep pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 5-10 minutes. Using jar tongs, carefully remove the jars making sure to allow the water to drain out of them before standing them upside down on a wire rack to cool. Carefully remove the lids and rings and also place on a rack to cool. Avoid touching the insides of the jars, rings or lids with your hands as that will contaminate them. You should also process at least one or two extra jars, lids and rings in case one breaks or doesn't fit properly. Note: For the lids and rings, I prefer to use a mesh strainer that my mom had for blanching vegetables. That way the pieces are all easily removed in one group rather than fishing the bottom of the pot with tongs to get them out. 


Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Mom

Today mothers are being celebrated for their countless sacrifices and the nurturing of the children in their lives.

They are lavished with love and affection. With homemade and store bought gifts. Meals - some more edible than others - that are made and served with love. Moms receive cards, letters and phone calls from those who can't make it home.

For me and my siblings though, this Mother's Day will be very different. It will be the first one since our beloved mom passed.

I've been trying to find a way to put my thoughts into words for this post for several days. It hasn't been easy.

I don't recall the last time that all of us kids were home on Mother's Day. It is at least 20 years though. It was easy when we were all kids or even young adults. But then - time, travel and other commitments seem to get in the way. We always tried to call though.

Mom never wanted us to spend money for Mother's Day. She was quite content to have either a visit or at least a phone call from the kids. For her, it was always more about family than material things.

That didn't mean that she didn't treasure those gifts we gave her - especially those handmade ones from when we were kids! When we were sorting through things at the farm house where we were raised, we came across a number of those long forgotten "treasures"! She kept so many souvenirs of our childhoods.

She loved nothing more than to have all her "chicks" back in the nest for a visit! She was never really a typical mother hen though. She worried about us but didn't hover or try to run our lives. She never tried to dictate our relationships or what we wanted to do with our lives. She was there to support us no matter what our choices. As long as we were happy and at peace, that was what mattered most.

There was always room for at least one more at the table. We were always welcome to bring our friends home for a meal or even for a weekend. There were a lot of our friends that our parents thought of as part of the extended family. Many of them came to visit mom and dad even if we weren't there!

After I lost so much of my sight, I didn't go out to the farm very often. I just felt more secure in my city mobility than at the farm. I missed spending time with her but my sister or a family friend would bring her into the city every once in a while and we'd visit while we shopped and had lunch together!

Over the last few years, we had gotten in the habit of talking for an hour on Sunday mornings. I'd call right at 11:00. The phone would ring once - maybe twice. She didn't have call display but she would answer with greeting me by name! In all the years we did this, she only got tripped up a couple of times by people who didn't realize or forgot that her and I had a standing weekly date!

In the last few months of her life though we had much shorter conversations - but also more often. She was in increasingly failing health and we knew those treasured calls were coming to an end. With the help of some wonderful friends, I managed to get out to see her three times in the last seven months of her life. It was so hard to see how much her health had deteriorated but I will always cherish those last few visits.

It has only been a few months now, but I miss her terribly. Oh, how I miss those phone calls!

I think of her when I see things that I know would make her laugh and I miss being able to read her email jokes. Sometimes she would even take notes on the jokes so she could tell them to someone else!

We talked a lot about food. I can't tell you how many times over the years that I picked up the phone to call and ask her something about a recipe or an ingredient. She loved hearing about the recipes I was trying and would jokingly say she was coming for tea or ask what time dinner was! Mom didn't bake the last few years so, I did a lot of baking for her as her Christmas present. I'd make different kinds of cookies, muffins, loaves, squares and biscuits. There would usually be 8-10 things in a large and heavy gift bag! She loved all of it and loved being able to pull something homemade out of the freezer to serve with tea when friends stopped by to visit or just to have as a treat.
It felt really strange to not be baking for her this last Christmas.

I think of her when I see certain things on sale in the grocery aisles. I think of her when I read recipes or see one on TV that she would have liked. When I bake something that I know she would have loved, I have the first few bites for her.

If you have read this blog at all in the last few years, you know I've often spoken of my parents and especially of my mom. (I'll post links to several posts at the end of this post)

There is so much more I could say and write about my mom - and someday I will. But today, I just want to remember her and thank her again for being the best mother I could ever have asked for.

Many of us have had to say goodbye to our mothers. It is never easy. Once our parents are gone there is a little part of us - that no matter how old we are - feels like we are orphans. Who will we turn to for help or advice? If we stop and think back on who our mothers were and what they stood for, we can almost hear their calming voice and sage words of wisdom guiding us on our daily paths.

Today we think of our mothers and wish with all our hearts that we could have just a little more time with them. To hug them and to tell them just how much we love them.

So, if you are lucky enough to still have your mom in your life, please give her an extra hug today and tell her how much you love and appreciate her. It really is the best gift you can ever give her.


These are some of the posts where I've talked about my mom:
Family Humour
What Are You Doing To Celebrate Canada Day?
Blizzard Of 1986
Holiday Traditions
Christmas Memories
April 1984 Ice Storm
My Parents Were Stoners
At The Lake
Going Home
Sorting Treasures
The Oak Wardrobe