In the Kitchen: Blueberry Chutney

Today was the day I set aside to make a batch of Blueberry Chutney.  I like canning in small batches.  I have the attention span of a gnat, and I'm easily bored.  It's far better for me to do small batches on successive days rather than to spend an entire day doing multiple batches.  While it's tempting to double this recipe, I do not recommend it.  I tried that once, and the chutney ended up less flavorful and more runny--in short, less chutney-like.

Not everyone likes chutney, but if you do, you are sure to like this one.  It is a spicy sweet chutney, good on poultry and fish, spread on a cracker with cream cheese, or (if you're like me) eaten with a spoon straight from the jar.  It makes a good condiment for sandwiches too, especially turkey. One of our favorite ways of eating it is to buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts, then marinate the chicken breasts all day in the commercially bottled Caribbean Jerk marinade made by KC Masterpiece.

At the end of the day, barbecue those babies up, and serve the blueberry chutney on the side.  Yum-Mee.  And I'm not even kidding.

So here's how you make blueberry chutney.  Start with some fresh blueberries like the ones I got at the Portland Farmer's Market yesterday.

You'll start with about four cups of blueberries, rinsed and drained. Pick out any berries that are unripe or shriveled and remove stems and flower debris.

Place them in a 4-quart saucepan.

Then add 1 medium onion

chopped fine

1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup brown sugar (I used dark brown)

2 teaspoons of yellow mustard seed

1 tablespoon crystallized ginger

finely chopped (see my note about crystallized ginger below)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

a pinch of salt

a pinch of nutmeg (I use whole nutmeg and grate it using my rasp)

and, finally, 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.

Just toss it all in together

and give it a good stir.

Then bring it to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 45 minutes or until chutney is thick.

After ten minutes, you'll still see lots of liquid and foam.

After twenty minutes, there will be more liquid and less foam.

After thirty minutes, the foam will be gone, and the liquid will be reducing.  This is a good time to start your boiling water bath.  (For the jars, not for you.)

Here's how it looks after simmering 40 minutes.  It's reduced by about half.

You'll mainly see blueberries and raisins, but not a lot of liquid.

When it gets to that stage, you're ready to fill your jars for processing.  I like these quilted jelly jars manufactured by Ball.

For this application, their slender profile allows me to use my stockpot to process them, rather than using my big boiling water bath canner.  If you are using a boiling water bath canner, choose a jar that works for your racking system.  These slim jelly jars will fall through the rack of my canner.

When I'm using the stockpot, however, they work well loaded into the insert.

I can fit five of them into the insert, although my yield was just four for this batch.

Fill your jars one at a time according to the manufacturer's directions, leaving 1/2-inch of head space.  Attach the lids and rings, then immerse them into water that has been brought to a full rolling boil.

Process them for 15 minutes at elevations below 1,000 feet.  At my elevation, 1400 feet, I process them for 20 minutes.  (Above 3,000 feet, process them for 25 minutes.  Above 6,000 feet, process them for 30 minutes).

When you're finished they will be a sight to behold . . . as lovely as sapphires.  I ended up with four half-pints with this batch.  I have enough ingredients to make another batch, which I will probably do tomorrow.

A note about crystallized ginger:  Crystallized ginger is readily available at most grocery stores nowadays.  I've found it with the regular spice rack, and I've also found it in the bulk food section of my grocery store.  I prefer the kind found in the bulk food section for being more economical, but also because it comes in larger hunks than what comes in a spice jar.

If you can't find crystallized ginger, you can make your own this way:  Mix together 2/3 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then add 1/2 cup peeled, sliced ginger.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Strain ginger pieces, then dry them on a rack and sprinkle them with sugar.  When they are completely cool, store them in an airtight container for up to 1 month.  Mince and use as needed. This method makes about 1/2 cup crystallized ginger.

So with that said, here is the recipe:

Blueberry Chutney
Recipe by Jeanne Lesem and adapted from "Preserving Today"
  as published in The Oregonian newspaper

4 cups fresh blueberries -- rinsed and stemmed
1 medium onion -- finely chopped
1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seed
1 tablespoon crystallized ginger -- minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch salt
pinch ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

Place blueberries in 4-quart saucepan.

Add onion, vinegar, raisins, brown sugar, mustard seed, ginger, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and red pepper flakes.

Bring mixture to a boil; simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes, or until chutney is thick.

Meanwhile, wash 4 half-pint jars.  Keep hot until needed.  Prepare lids as manufacturer directs.

Ladle the hot chutney into 1 hot jar at a time, leaving 1/2-inch head space.

Wipe the jar rim with a clean, damp cloth.

Attach lid. 

Fill and close remaining jars.

Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes (20 minutes 1,001 to 3,000 feet; 25 minutes 3,001 to 6,000 feet; 30 minutes above 6,000 feet).

9 comments from clever and witty friends:

Lee said...

ummmuuummm, sure looks good. Thanks for the tutorial. My mom's cousin owns/owned a blueberry farm. I think the 'kids' operate it now. We don't buy blueberries often, due to price for quantity, here in the dry land, but I sure do like them.

The Slow Quilter said...

O.K. that looks soooo good. I have never canned anything in my life, so how about selling me a jar?

The Slow Quilter said...

O.K. that looks soooo good. I have never canned anything in my life, so how about selling me a jar? Love the tutorial.

Teresa in Music City said...

I don't believe I've ever eaten chutney of any type, but that sure does look like fun to cook! I bet it tastes even better!

Mrs.Pickles said...

oh wow that looks great. I have a Saskatoon berry bush in my yard and I think I am going to have to try your recipe using them instead of blueberries. YUMMY

quiltzyx said...

Mmmmm...blueberry chutney on a turkey & cream cheese sandwich!

Sam said...

I love chutneys! They are my favorite way to preserve fruits besides canning them whole or freezing. I use jams sparingly, but chutneys I'll slather on just about anything. I am definitely making this soon.

Thanks for sharing with Fresh Foods Wednesdays!

Kristy Lynn said...

i have my own jerk rub/mixture i make and this would go fabulously with it! next time i make jerk tilapia this baby is goin on top! :)

thank you for visiting and sharing your seasonal post with us at The Fresh Foods Blog Hop - I hope you'll stop by again this Wednesday!

Joy said...

My sweet sister made this and gave me a jar for Christmas. I immediately hounded her for the recipe. This is awesome!