Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Watermelon Rind Chutney

My summertime canning is never complete without at least one chutney. I usually make a batch and preserve it near the beginning to middle of the season, when I have access to the greatest variety of fruit and vegetables - and enough time for the flavours to infuse and mellow before the holidays (when jars of it get tucked into gift baskets). I try to keep my batches small (I don't know that many people), but the fact is that chutney is really one of those "kitchen sink" preserves. Almost anything can find home in a batch, from zucchini to prunes, mango to rhubarb or even green tomatoes - what matters is turning it into a sweet-tart, moderately spiced condiment that is delicious on almost anything.

This year my "main ingredient" decision was made for me when I brought home the watermelon rind from school. Not really having a discernible flavour on its own, it has the ability (much like tofu, zucchini or eggplant) to soak up the flavours its surrounded with, at the same time as adding a great texture to the mixture (that is otherwise basically a puree). I also mixed in diced pears, homegrown American saffron (AKA Calendula), cloves, peppers, ginger and garlic... and would have added some of the boatload of raisins I had at home too if I had remembered! I also got a bit of help keeping the sugar down by using some of the Pyure Bakeable Blend Stevia I had on hand for half the sugar, and what sugar I did add was the rich, flavourful Demerara.

I think my favourite part about making this chutney was how forgiving it was in terms of cooking time - I basically set it to simmer and let it go gently while I heated up the canner (which any home-preserver knows takes forever to come to a boil). Granted, I'm not saying cook it all day - at least not if you want to keep a chunky texture - but between half an hour and and hour and a half will give you the most developed flavour while creating tender bites of rind in the tangy puree.

Submitted to Waste Not Want Not Wednesday

Watermelon Rind Chutney

Watermelon Rind Chutney
Makes 6 cups, 48 (2-tbsp) servings
2 ¼ lbs peeled, diced watermelon rind (from one large watermelon - about 6 cups)
3 large pears, peeled and diced
1 cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup lemon juice
1 ½ cups water
1 cup Demerara sugar or dark brown sugar
1 cup Pyure Bakeable Blend Stevia
¼ cup minced fresh ginger
2 tbsp hot chili flakes (or minced fresh Thai chili)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp coarsely crushed black peppercorns
1 tsp cloves
1/2 tbsp American saffron (Calendula)* or 1 tsp turmeric
  1. Bring all the ingredients to a boil in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until rind is translucent and liquid is thickened (about 45 minutes) stirring occasionally.
  3. Can in a waterbath for 30 minutes or cool and chill at least 3 days to allow flavors to mellow.
*American saffron can also refer to safflower, however calendula petals are less expensive and (IMHO) more effective at recreating the delicate nature of true saffron 
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 30.2
Total Fat: 0.0 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 48.8 mg
Total Carbs: 9.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.7 g
Protein: 0.4 g

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