Monday, August 4, 2014

Apple Fig Chutney

A tangy condiment made from foraged fruit

Apple Fig Chutney from Farm Fresh Feasts

Foraging Fruit

When I first read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (Amazon affiliate link) we lived near a wooded park.  My daughter and I spent the summer picking wild raspberries, blackberries, and lots of marionberries.  I'd walk past a flowering quince (I looked it up because I was curious what sort of low flowering bush would produce small, pear-shaped fruit) but I never picked the fruit.  As much as I enjoyed the foraging part--brambles aside--the quality of the prolific marionberries was less than desirable.  They grew all over the woods because they were mostly seed, and the critters who ate that slightly fruit-wrapped seed carried it into ever-expanding territory.
The following season I decreased the foraging part of our diet and turned to local Pick Your Own places, where the berries are grown for flavor.  We'd gorge while the berries were ripe, and freeze the rest to get us through until the next berry season.

Apple Fig Chutney from Farm Fresh Feasts
After we moved to Ohio and started walking the sidewalks of our new city I thought my foraging days were over.  We bought a house and planted peach trees, blueberry bushes, raspberry canes and a strawberry patch.
Then I saw the fig tree.  In an alley.  Alone unemployed in Greenland between a garage and a utility pole.  [I knew it was a fig tree because I'd enjoyed my first fresh figs from the massive tree at my last CSA in Virginia, Blenheim Organic Gardens.] All spring and summer I'd walk the dog down the alley, eyeing the progress of the figs.
Apple Fig Chutney from Farm Fresh Feasts

Before the figs ripened, though, I walked in another direction and discovered plums.  Falling next to the street.  Ripe for the foraging.  Perfect for muffins.   Then a friend from work invited my daughter and I to pick peaches from her heavily laden tree. [Yes, my girl was envious of that tree, but her trees' day will come.] All of a sudden the foraging opportunities here seemed pretty darn interesting.  In another direction I spotted a lovely pear tree--in a backyard.  I can't forage in someone's backyard!  However, I'm not a fool, so when I happened to walk past one fall morning when the pear tree owner was outside picking up dropped fruit, I asked (over the commotion of our combined dogs' conversation) if he had any pears to spare.  Bingo!  That nice guy filled up a bag for me!  I dropped off a fresh loaf of sourdough bread to his wife the next day to maintain the local fruit karma.

Apple Fig Chutney from Farm Fresh Feasts

Apple Fig Chutney from Farm Fresh Feasts

Apple Fig Chutney, adapted from Apple Pear Chutney from Food in Jars (Amazon affiliate link)

8 fresh brown figs, quartered (6 ounces/170 grams by weight)
2 apples, cored and chopped (10 ounces/280 grams by weight)
¾ cup raisin date blend (about ⅔ cup raisins plus dates up to ¾ total) (3 ½ ounces/100 grams)
½ cup chopped white onion (2 ⅞ ounces/80 grams)
¼ lemon, seeded and finely chopped
⅝ cup apple cider vinegar (5 ½ ounces/150 ml by volume)
1 cup brown sugar (7 ounces/200 grams by weight)
½ Tablespoon mustard seed
1 whole clove
½ cinnamon stick
1 large clove roasted garlic (here's how I roast and store my garlic crop)
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger

Makes about 3 half pint jars. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan (I used my 3 quart). Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, then reduce heat to medium low and cook until thickened. This took the better part of an hour for me, checking and stirring every 10 minutes initially then every 5 minutes as it got thicker.
If you haven't given your dogs their heart worm medicine, while the chutney is reducing would be an excellent time to give it to them.
Once the chutney is finished, remove the cinnamon stick and clove--I did this by feel, with the back of my spoon. You can eat the chutney right away, store it in the refrigerator for several weeks, or boiling water bath can it for pantry stability.
I canned mine by spooning it into hot jars, leaving ½ inch headspace, and processed in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. If you're new to canning, you can find detailed canning instructions at the to the National Center for Home Food Preservation and of course Food in Jars.

Apple Fig Chutney from Farm Fresh Feasts
Vincent Barbarino is demonstrating his balancing skills (photo from last summer)
We use this with Indian food, such as my upcoming Buttercup Squash and Green Tomato Masala:

Apple Fig Chutney from Farm Fresh Feasts

This post is shared on Tasty TuesdaysWhat's Cookin' Wednesday


  1. Look at you throwing in a teaser at the end. I love how you forage for food, and I'd be willing to do a swap anytime. Quite frankly, I think the pear people made out great.

    1. Meghan,
      I wonder if there's a mechanism in place for swaps?

  2. I think we should all plan a massive food blogger food swap with homemade, home canned, foraged, local & seasonal food stuff.

    PS. I'm so glad you kept up the local food karma. Give back, sister. I do the same thing when I snag fruit or veggies from someone in the neighbourhood. Usually.

    1. Kristy,
      It seemed like the right thing to do.

  3. If i leave out the sugar will it come out ok? Thanks! (Ps love the greenland quote. Im just gonna haveto find a new giant!)

    1. Kirsten,
      I am sorry for the delay in responding--I'm having issues with actual comments appearing initially as spam. I'm hoping to correct that soon.
      That's a good question, and one I've not thought about. Thanks for asking.
      I have not tried this recipe without sugar. I know that sugar is a preservative that helps to keep the environment of jams, jellies, and chutneys hostile to bacteria, so I would be hesitant to leave it out and water bath can the result. I'm sure a sugar-free batch would be ok in the fridge for a couple of weeks, but I don't know how it would taste.
      Good luck, and keep me posted!

  4. Hello sorry to be so dumb but i was wondering could you tell me is the recipe for 8 fresh figs 170grams each or is that the weight in total also the same goes for the apples is it 280 grams each or 280 grams in total - many thanks

    1. Sandra,
      There are no dumb questions! The weights listed are the total that my fruits weighed. I put 8 figs on the scale and they totaled 170 grams. The total weight for all of the chopped apple I used in the chutney was 280 grams. Ditto the dried fruits.
      Thanks for asking--and good luck!

  5. Appreciate this post. Will ttry it out.