Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Making Herbal Gifts - Chutney, mustards, etc.

Adding to the previous food items, like homemade gingerbread men and trees and spiced
cookies and all the things mentioned earlier I thought I would include these easy to make at the last minute items. 

My husband pointed out over Thanksgiving that his favortie gift to recieve are condiments.  Chutneys, relishes, exoitic jellies and such, especially if they are homemade or small batch made like those you find in local gift emproiums.  His sister and brother in law find him some great ones while travling in the UP of Michigan each year.

Here is a great seasonal chutney with all the perfect spices that I makes it a great gift and a wonderful side dish for holiday cooking.  To give as a gift you will need to waterbath can the chutney in mason jars.  For full details on this process I recommend checking out the Ball canning website.

Spiced Cranberry Chutney
·         1 tablespoon(s) canola oil
·         1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 1/2 cups)
·         1 tablespoon(s) grated fresh ginger
·         1 teaspoon(s) ground allspice
·         2 stick(s) cinnamon
·         1 cup(s) sugar
·         4 cup(s) cranberries, fresh or frozen
·         1 cup(s) dried apricots, diced
·         1 cup(s) apricot nectar
·         1 teaspoon(s) grated lemon zest
·         2 tablespoon(s) lemon juice
·         1 teaspoon(s) kosher salt
·         1/2 teaspoon(s) freshly ground black pepper
·         2 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and cut in 1/2-inch dice

1.   Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat; add onion, ginger, allspice, and cinnamon sticks. Cook, stirring mixture frequently, until onion is translucent and tender, about 10 minutes.
2.   Stir in sugar, cranberries, apricots, nectar, lemon zest and juice, salt, and pepper. Stir mixture to dissolve sugar, then bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 22 minutes. Stir in apples. Continue to simmer 10 to 12 minutes longer, stirring once or twice, or until apples are tender yet still hold their shape.
3.   Remove from heat and transfer to a serving bowl. Cover surface of chutney with plastic wrap. Cool at room temperature 30 minutes, then refrigerate several hours until well chilled and chutney has set up. (Chutney can be made up to 3 days before serving and stored in the refrigerator.)
4.   For long term storage or to give as a gift, you will have to process this mixture in a waterbath canner.  Pour the mixture into sterilized mason jars leaving ½ inch head room.  Seal with heated lids and rings and place in boiling water for 12 to 15 minutes.  Remove from boiling water and allow to cool.  Place any jars that do not “pop” in the refrigerator and use quickly.  Those that seal will stay fresh for a year.

I posted several Mustard recipes in a blog back in August.  This was the basic recipe I recommended and I still think it is the easiest and most versatile.  It makes a great gift when combined with some summer sausage and hard cheese and crackers in a gift bag or basket.

Make-It-Yourself Gourmet Mustard
1 cup of Dijon-style mustard
¼ cup dried herbs (or about one-half cup finely-chopped fresh herbs)
1½ tablespoons dry white wine
Combine all ingredients in a lidded jar and refrigerate for a week before using, so that the flavors mellow and mingle. Keep for up to three months (although it certainly won't last that long).

Some zesty herbal combinations to make this more personal are:
  • Minced thyme, parsley, and marjoram, with one clove garlic
  • Minced tarragon with basil and thyme
  • 1-2 tablespoons prepared or freshly grated horseradish, one clove garlic, ¼ cup grated fresh ginger root, 2 tablespoons honey
  • Substitute red wine for white, with basil, chives, and a clove of garlic.

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