If you want to be happy in a million ways, for the holidays you can't beat home sweet home. Patti is setting herself up on Millionaire Matchmaker! I knit a pair of socks! Museums and bourbon! Sharing DNA and a sense of humor! So many laughs. So many snacks.
Being a pauper, food gifts rule the day. This year, I canned chutney. My dad swears I could go into business, but he is still telling people that I am going to be a supreme court justice or replace Rachel Ray, so I sense some bias. Anyway, this recipe involves canning, which I guess is kind of scary because you could end up on the botch watch (http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html). It was a long time before I started making jams and pickles for that reason, but you gotta figure that people have been doing this since the ancient times and so long as you follow the rules and don't eat out of weird bulging or molding jars, it works out. You can get a cheap canning kit that has a funnel and lifters, or just be bootleg and carefully use tongs... which works, mostly. There are plenty of online resources if you get hooked. Start here.
(from Simply Recipes)
4-5 cups of chopped mango (1/2 - 1 inch pieces). If you hadn't noticed, mangoes are freaking expensive. But a case from Costco isn't! And makes about double this recipe.
1 cup (5-6 percent acidity, double check!) apple cider vinegar
2 cups of sugar
a medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup of golden raisins
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon curry powder
1 Tablespoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon (fresh grated) ginger or a few pieces of crystallized ginger, chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
Salt and black pepper
In a thick-bottomed pot, dissolve the sugar in the vinegar. Don't breathe the fumes! Or breathe the fumes: refreshing! Phew. Throw in all the ingredients and let it simmer for an hour or an hour and a half until it is thick and gloppy. Like chutney! Miraculous! Seriously, when fruit turns jammy it is such happy magic.Making jam to the tunes of Peter, Paul and Mary Christmas? I could make this an annual thing.
OK, then sterilize your canning jars. You can get them at the grocery store or a hardware store. This recipe makes about 6 half pints, or three pints (math wizard!). So boil your jars and lids for a 10 minutes, or keep them in a 250 degree oven while you are making the jam (twenty minutes should do it). Then dry them and get them ready on a non-stressful, flat surface.
When your jam is jammy, fill your jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace (between your jam and the rim). "Bubble your jars," which means running a chopstick around the circumference of the jar so there are fewer bubbles to mess up the vacuum seal. Clean the rim of the jar really well so there is no crap that will mess up your seal. This is where having a funnel would probably be awesome. Oh well.
Is that too gross? Am I in total little-brother mode? MOVING ON! Boil a pot of water that is pretty big (enough to cover your jars plus a couple inches, a benefit of using the half pint). Place the lid on the jar and tighten the ring until "fingertip tight"-- I basically tighten it fiercely, then unwind a little. Air needs to be able to escape to make the vacuum, so gorilla grip is not your friend here.
Use tongs to place the jars in the water... I think you are supposed to use a rack so that the bottom of the glass jars is safer, but so far I haven't had a jar break, so. If you have some kind of steaming rack to rest the jars on top of, bravo. Process (boil) for 15 minutes, making sure there is always a couple inches of water over the tops of the jars. Then let the water cool for 5 minutes and take out the jars (using tongs, carefully). Let the jars rest for 24 hours undisturbed. If the seal goes down (pop!) you are set. If it makes that clicking noise (like the unscrewed top of a snapple that you use for dog training?!) stick that one in the fridge and eat it as you would normal, perishable chutney. Another test for the botulism-wary: unscrew the ring and pick up the jar from the lid-part with your fingertips. Should keep on the shelf for like six months and in the fridge for however long condiments last in the fridge (forever? a month?)
Have you totally bought into the hipster homemaking canning thing? Is canning totally frivilous if you are buying the produce instead of growing it? Do you make your own condiments? Let me know. Also Teddy I hope this blog looks awesome on your new iPad. There is no rivalry like sibling rivalry and no sibling rivalry than Apple Product rivalry, AM I RIGHT FIRST-WORLD?! Anyway, happy holidays my friends. Chances are good that I am thinking of you and thinking warm and happy thoughts. Lots of love. Drop a line.