March 19, 2012

Quick Apple Chutney


Apple chutney
Apple Chutney made with Ginger Ale

Recently I bought some ginger ale so that whiskey and soda could be consumed. But I mistakenly bought some good stuff, Red Rock Golden Ginger Ale, and while it's delightfully gingery with a strong peppery finish, it really wouldn't go well with Jameson's. The bottle sat in the refrigerator, unloved, until I wanted something to garnish a nice pork tenderloin, and I realized that spicy ginger ale would make an absolutely wonderful base for a quick apple chutney.

Basically a chutney is a relish with a well-balanced sweet-and-sour flavor and some level of heat. It might be a fresh chutney, like this one, or a preserved chutney that needs weeks or months to mature. If you've never made chutney, don't let it frighten you. You get to decide what a chutney is, with the confidence that there are literally thousands of chutneys of all sorts, and there isn't anyone in the world who can prove that what you make isn't a chutney.

For the apples I chose one Fuji and one Braeburn, for no particular reason. I used maple syrup—the real stuff of course—and brown sugar for the sweet component. For the sour component a good apple cider vinegar was the obvious choice. The ginger ale provided heat and spices. Onion and sweet red pepper (capsicum) provided a savory touch. Here's how to make it.

First dice and caramelize an onion using a splash of extra virgin olive oil. While the onion caramelizes, dice the apples, skin on, into lightly acidulated water. When the onion is ready, drain the apples and add them to the pot, then pour in the ginger ale. Add enough maple syrup to provide a maple note without overpowering the apples, then add brown sugar until the mixture is fairly sweet. Vinegar is next, just enough to cut the sweetness a bit, but not enough to make it tart because there's a good bit of reduction about to happen and too much vinegar now will just be sour later.

Bring the mixture to a slow boil, stirring now and then and adjusting the flavor, until the liquid is reduced by about half. Add some diced red pepper and boil a few more minutes until the pepper is incorporated into the flavor. Add salt to taste, then adjust the sweet-and-sour flavor to your liking adding more maple syrup or brown sugar if it's too tart, or vinegar if it's too sweet.

I can't give you any proportions or quantities. The sweetness or tartness of the apples you choose will have an impact on the final flavor, as will the sweetness of the onion and amount of caramelization you achieve. Furthermore, our preferences may be different; I may want a sweeter and hotter chutney than you. What you're looking for at the end is fruit retaining it's shape, softened but not mushy, and flavor that is savory rather than sweet. This isn't a spread for breakfast toast, but a condiment for a savory entrée.

This chutney will last about a week in the refrigerator. It isn't suitable for preserving.

4 comments:

  1. Beautiful! I love mango and peach chutneys, so I imagine apples would be beautiful, too.

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  2. Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca)March 20, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    Ginger ale in chutney!  I have never heard of such a thing before, and I don't know why not, it sounds FABULOUS!

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  3. I'd never heard of ginger ale in chutney either, but it seemed like a good idea and it turned out really well.

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  4. Thanks! Peach would be excellent with a really spicy ginger ale. I'm not sure whether the spices in ginger ale would work as well with mango.

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