Intro: Christmas Raisin-Date Chutney
I started making this recipe ages ago when I first got Sally Fallon Morell's amazing cookbook Nourishing Traditions. Now I have a few different versions. This one is the latest. I especially like this recipe because it uses the lactic-acid fermentation method of preservation which works with the micro-organisms that our gut needs so badly. This chutney is also a probiotic and will help with digesting heavy meals.
It makes an excellent gift. It is exotic and delicious, lasts a long time, is easy to make and it is affordable--you can make quite a few without breaking the bank. Get started now as it is good to allow them a bit of time for the flavors to blend and mellow.
Makes four 250 mL jars of chutney.
I don't have much chili in this recipe as most of my relatives are elderly and can't handle it. A slightly spicier version can be found here.
Step 1: Ingredients
3 c raisins
1 c chopped dates
1 inch cinnamon stick
5 cardamom pods
1 T wild fennel
1 T ground ginger (I had run out of fresh ginger or I would have used that)
2 T cumin
3 T coriander
1 1/2 T fenugreek
1 T black mustard
10 black peppercorns
tiny pinch of chili
2 t turmeric
2 t sea salt
1/4 c whey
1/4 c filtered water
Step 2: Preparation
Soak your dates and raisins in hot water for about an hour. Strain. You can keep the liquid, it will be very sweet, but be sure you strain it well.
Combine your whole spices in a dry heavy bottomed pan and heat gently until a lovely spice aroma fills the house. Be careful not to burn them and keep them lightly moving so that they toast evenly. Grind them to a fine powder in a spice mill.
This step is very important. Freshly toasted and ground spices are so full of flavor that they can't be compared to pre-ground spices. This simple act of gently toasting the spices really makes the dish. Take your time and put a lot of love and good wishes into it.
When the spices are ground. Pound the garlic and mix all the ingredients together except the whey and water. I usually like to puree about half of the mixture which gives it a nice texture.
Step 3: Canning and Aging
Place the mixture into the sterilized jars, push down as much as possible as you go, trying to remove as many air-pockets as possible. Since this is a lactic-acid fermentation technique it is important to be thorough and keep your hands clean during this process. Clean the edges of the jar and poke down into the chutney a few holes so that the whey and brine can penetrate throughout the chutney.
Mix the salt with the whey and filtered water. Make sure it is dissolved and pour it over the chutney making sure the liquid completely covers it. Cover and tighten. Sit the jars in a warm place in your kitchen for 48 hours and then transfer to your fridge or a cool pantry. After opening, be sure to keep in the fridge and use it up in about 2 months.
I love to have this stuff on hand as it is a great way to spice up any meal. It is also excellent with curries, stir-fry, roast pork or mixed into a curried green bean salad. Get creative!
Your family will love it.