You know autumn is OFFICIALLY here when all the fall spices come out to play. Chili peppers are wonderful to enjoy throughout the warm summer, but they are just at home in the cooling fall, where pumpkins and apples traditionally dominate. We're putting all of that together to make a popular condiment that will keep in the fridge a while and should compliment many a simple meal - chutney. Chutney is originally from India, a combination of vegetables and fruits mixed with spices, sugar and vinegar. It has the consistency of a thick sauce, depending on how you make it, and becomes even thicker in the refrigerator, making it a bit more like a spread. U.S. chutneys tend to be sweet.
There are many possible chutney combinations, depending on your preferred ingredients. I did not go with any particular chili pepper flavor profile with this recipe. I chose a wide variety from the garden this year, about a pound of them, ranging from mild sweet peppers to the fairly spicy pineapple aji chili pepper. It's a good way to use up and preserve your abundant chili pepper harvest, actually, and you get a delicious condiment out of it. The flavor is both savory and sweet, quite a bit pear forward with a slight emphasis on the brown sugar, though you'll certainly get the pepper addition.
Big question, of course. What can I do with a chutney? On the simple side, use it as a spread over toast with your morning coffee. A super quick breakfast helper. Try it over steaming crepes with a dash of cream. I personally like to spoon it over grilled chicken. It saves me from having to make a sauce from scratch for those days when I want something easy for dinner. You can also swirl it into soups and stews for the added flavors. Use it as a dip or an accompaniment to a nice autumn fruit salad. Enjoy!
Mixed Pepper-Pear Chutney
- 2 pears, chopped
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 pound mixed chili peppers, chopped – I used a number of sweets and some spicy ajis from our garden
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 teaspoons ginger powder
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Heat a large pot to medium heat and add the olive oil with all of the fruit and vegetables. Cook them for about 10 minutes, stirring often, to cook them down.
- Add remaining ingredients and bring to a bowl. Reduce heat to low and cook about an hour to thicken the chutney.
- At this point you can process the chutney to smooth it out or keep it as-is – nice and chunky.
- Alternatively, instead of keeping everything in the pot, you can transfer your mixture to a slow cooker after cooking it all down a bit in the pot and let it cook low and slow, on the low setting, about 3 hours. It will turn into an excellent chutney!