It has been an embarrassingly long while since I've updated this space and without divulging the details of my completely overturned world I'll just say that when this book arrived on a very dark and cold day in February it lightened my heart in more ways than I can mention. I think I have read Autumn's blog since forever, although I can't even remember exactly when that began. I love her candid way of writing and her spot on recipes, everything she does she does with passion and excitement. I could tell from the beginning that this was a girl who loved to make, and was going to make well for years.
I enjoyed this new book for so many reasons, but especially for small (even on occasion single jar) recipes that other makers just "get". Maybe the reason I've liked Autumn for so long is that she understands the need to make that drives us fellow makers on a daily basis. There is a deep need to find satisfying homemade goods for our own bellies and those of our families, friends, and neighbors if you are a maker. You makers know who you are: you probably already make all of your own jams, krauts, and condiments. This, then, is the book you will want to pull out when planning your spring and summer preserves, but also your fall and winter ferments. This is the book that will make you love Autumn and follow up on her for the coming years.
If life hadn't gotten in my way, I would have made more recipes right away. So far, I've only tried a couple. The first was a take on a chocolate-hazelnut spread, only it was nut free and made with bananas. I know a couple of banana haters, and if you dislike banana this definitely isn't your jumping off point. But if you like happen to like bananas, you will cook them down with a bit of cocoa powder and a pinch of cinnamon and come up with a chocolaty banana base for toast or little icebox desserts like I made. (I used barely sweetened whipped cream with layers of Maria cookies. These keep amazingly well stored in the fridge for at least a few days.)
As a self-proclaimed condiment junkie, I pulled a recipe to highlight here that I just assumed after reading that I would love, and I was more than right. I do love it. And I've been eating it on everything sandwich related for the past week - you know, the way you do with a new condiment crush.
Cardamom is a fickle spice, I love it but it seems like too much can tend towards bitter. When I saw that there was a chutney with a whole tablespoon included I almost read no further. I had to make it for myself and I'm so glad I did. The cardamom is mellowing nicely as the open chutney ages, and splurging on a half cup of 25$ per pound dried cherries was good for my soul. I pulled the rhubarb from my deep freezer; my stash from last year still safe and needing to be used up quick before the new season is upon us. I always think to myself that I don't have the pretty pink "food blogger" rhubarb... my family heirloom plants are the mostly green "industrial" workhorse rhubarb variety. So my chutney is more mauve and not quite as beautiful as the one pictured in Autumn's book - but I'm sure it's every bit as delicious. When I see some pretty pink rhubarb in the markets this spring, I'm likely to buy a pound and make this all over again to store on my shelves.
Rhubarb-Cardamom Chutney (Autumn Giles, Beyond Canning)
Cardamom and tart rhubarb together in a chutney that will be the star of your cheese plate
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons whole yellow mustard seed
1⁄3 cup diced white onion
½ cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and sliced into ½ -inch chunks
¾ cup apple cider vinegar
Basic supplies for vinegar preserves (see page 78)
Yield: about 2 half pints
1. Combine all of the ingredients in your preserving pot.
2. Over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil that cannot be stirred down. Stir frequently as it comes to a boil.
3. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the mixture has thickened and the rhubarb has broken down completely, about 20 minutes. Toward the end of the cooking time it may be necessary to stir the chutney more frequently to prevent scorching.
4. Ladle into prepared half-pint jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and wipe rims. Place the lids on the jars and screw on the bands until they’re fingertip tight.
5. Process in a water-bath canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude if needed.
6. After 24 hours, check the seals. Label, date, and store out of direct sunlight without the bands for up to a year.
I didn't actually can this chutney, I left it portioned into three jars to enjoy now and share with friends. (Or maybe just hoard to myself since I haven't actually given any away yet...) It's tart and the texture is great with the cherries and mustard seeds. It's not too sweet and it really is good with any kind of cheese (that is a smoked swiss above). I need to include it on some grilled cheeses, and I need to get some brie ASAP, since I feel it would be an especially good compliment.
I'm so happy that I am able to offer one copy of Beyond Canning to one lucky reader so he/she can begin to make pretty, fermented Pink House Kraut, Pickled Figs with Port & Black Pepper, and a single jar of Rosé Wine Jelly for him/herself. To enter, please leave a comment telling about one thing you love to make (or would love to make) on this post before next Wednesday, March 16th (11:59 p.m.) and I will assign each name a number and choose a winner via Random Number Generator. After commenting, hop over to visit Autumn Makes and Does to catch up on all the beautiful things that come from Autumn's hands. You can also catch other recipes and reviews of Beyond Canning throughout the month of march with a virtual book tour on a host of other wonderful food blogs. Find the complete list and dates here.
In my current days of uncertainty, it's good to mosey over to the fridge and see some very certain and comforting jars of chutney peering back at me. And books like this make me so thankful to be a tiny part of a large network of amazing people. Autumn, this book is totally the first of many and I'm just thrilled that I could have one of the early copies in my hands from the start!