I am apparently on a roll to keep myself busy by cooking/baking almost every day of December. After a busy day at work, I find the chopping, stirring, kneading kind of meditative, and the smell of the food helps to bring cheerful thoughts. I feel lucky to have friends who also enjoy cooking and baking. I have been delighted to receive homemade goods from nuts to jam to marshmallow to bao (Chinese-style buns/breads). I love the care and love that went into each of these gifts. And I love that my friends chose the flavors for me that they knew I would enjoy. I also gave out baked goods and preserves to some friends. For those of us who love to cook and bake, it's truly gratifying to see the joy on others' faces as they open their gift bags and discover the baked goods. I've been reading a lot in the papers, including the New York Times, about the lack of manners and how people don't thank others anymore. I've had a couple of bad experiences but for the most part, my friends have been so good as to write me notes or call to show their appreciation. It's especially nice when I can surprise someone with the goodies.
After the baked goods and other gifts I had to pack for friends and family, I finally got around to this month's Can It Up. I have also contributed to December's Bundt-a-month with the decadent and oh-so-good Bourbon Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake. Bundt-a-month is hosted by Cake Duchess and Baker Street, both inventive and prolific bakers. Hima of All Four Burners chose booze as the theme for December's Can It Up. Hima hosts this year's Preserving challenge called Can It Up (used to be called Can Jam). Really, you can think of it as a can/preserve-along, like Knit-alongs. It's fun and we do it for the camaraderie of others who preserve. I love seeing what others come up with for each month's theme. For the ground rules, click here. Here is my contribution to Can It Up - Pear and Persimmon Chutney.
Every Fall, I know that I will be getting persimmons because my parents know that I like persimmons and they always get a lot for me whenever they see it at the market. I am lucky that way. Aren't persimmons beautiful? I love its orange color. It's so evocative of Fall/Autumn. There are many varieties of persimmons but the most commonly available commercial ones are the hachiya and the fuyu. Basically, the hachiya belongs to the astringent category and must be eaten only when fully ripe (almost mushy to touch) or the high tannin will leave quite an astringent quality on your tongue. I've made that mistake before! The fuyu belongs to the nonastringent category of persimmons. It's like an apple and crisp even when ripe.
Pears are also very much a fruit of the Fall season. I love pears, which remind me of the occasions of sweet juice dripping down as I tried to catch every last drop.
I was inspired when I read Marisa's post about persimmon chutney in a creative e-spread she did in collaboration with others. Here is the link to her inspirational spread: http://www.foodinjars.com/2012/11/in-deep-autumn/
For this month's preserve, I used Marisa's recipe as base and riffed off of that. I used what I had and added the note of booze. As I was pouring out my apple cider vinegar, I saw that it was running out. Oh so sad, but I have a stash of white vinegar so I added the white vinegar to get the right amount of acid in the recipe. I used my persimmons and pears, and the last tablespoon of bourbon that I had! I think this would be lovely on crackers, cheese or as a side for dinner. Or add to a chicken, turkey or ham sandwich. This is making me hungry thinking about it.
With the fruit that I had and Marisa's recipe as inspiration, this is the result:
Pear and Persimmon Chutney
3 cups peeled and chopped persimmons (about 4 medium Fuyu persimmons)
3 cups chopped pears (unpeeled and about 2 big Anjou pears)
Half of red onion, chopped
2 tablespoon flame raisins
1 tablespoon bourbon
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon grated ginger or more to taste
1 ts salt
2/3 cup light brown sugar
Pinch of ground allspice
1. Soak the raisins in the bourbon. Then peel and chop the persimmons. Chop the pears with skin on. Chop the onion.
2. Put persimmon and pears and onion into a wide heavy-bottomed pot. Add in vinegar and sugar. Cook on medium-high heat until it boils, then lower heat a little. Stir frequently.
3. Add in raisins and bourbon if any was not soaked by raisins. Add cloves, grated ginger, salt and allspice. Cook and stir for about 35-45 minutes to the right consistency (thick sauce). Taste and add more spices to your taste.
4. Add some chili if you like heat in your chutney.
5. Turn off heat, put into jars and add lid. Process in water bath for 10 minutes.
Yield: Four 1/2 pint jars