Sweet-spicy chutney reinvigorates aging apples

The Whole Dish podcast: Chutneys commingle European fruits, Indian spices

They look like rare commodities, those first golden mandarin oranges, still boasting dark-green stems and waxy leaves.

By contrast, the grocery-store bins of apples are commonplace, available for months now. And while some varieties are inherently good keepers, others are losing moisture and sweetness by the day. Golden delicious is one of those: truly delicious right off the tree but turning bland and mealy a few weeks post-harvest.

Those less-than-fresh apple specimens still have value, even at the height of citrus season. Cooking them is my preferred method to extend the appeal of any fruit that’s past its prime. Confronted with month-old apples in my fridge recently, I didn’t hesitate to simmer them with cranberries and fresh ginger for a fast and flavorful compote. Cranberries aren’t just for Thanksgiving in our house.

I also roast apple slices with potato wedges and good-quality sausages, such as andouille or boudin blanc. The simple combination makes a sweet-savory sheet-pan supper.

Indeed, rich meats and starchy root vegetables that factor more heavily into wintertime menus benefit from a sour-spicy condiment. Sauerkraut is one good candidate, but my husband prefers the vinegary tang of chutneys.

With garlic, chili flakes and mustard seeds, this chutney will perk up the palate and reinvigorate aging apples. It makes a festive addition to holiday cheese platters and a thoughtful, edible gift.

Tribune News Service photo

Sweet and Spicy Apple Chutney

2 cups cider vinegar

2 cups light-brown sugar

5 garlic cloves, peeled

2 ounces fresh ginger, peeled and sliced or coarsely chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon red chili flakes

2 pounds Granny Smith apples

1 1/2 cups golden raisins

2 cinnamon sticks

2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds

Place the vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, salt and red chili flakes in a blender jar. Puree on medium-high until smooth, for about 1 minute.

Peel the apples and cut out cores. Discard cores. Dice apples into 1/4-inch-thick cubes. They need not be perfectly uniform.

In a large saucepan, combine apples with the raisins, cinnamon sticks and mustard seeds. Pour vinegar blend over apples. Simmer, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until almost all liquid is reduced, for about 25 minutes.

Remove cinnamon sticks. Turn off heat and let cool.

Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Serve cold, warm or at room temperature.

Makes 3 cups.

— Recipe from “Composing the Cheese Plate: Recipes, Pairings and Platings for the Inventive Cheese Course” by Brian Keyser and Leigh Friend (Running Press, September 2016, $22)

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