Pear chutney for preserving, a recipe from 1955

I have fallen in love with chutney. It’s like jam, but chunkier and not as sweet and spicy _ ok, well, maybe it’s not much like jam. But, it’s something you can preserve, and it looks just as pretty in jars, and I find that I actually eat it, which I tend not to do with the jam I’ve made. G. eats the jam.

I started with a green tomato chutney recipe that the New York Times published just as I was overwhelmed by the number of green tomatoes in our garden that had no hope of ripening as the weather cooled. Then G. bought 20 pounds of fresh cranberries, and I made cranberry chutney. That’s what really hooked me. It was delicious.

I went looking for more chutney recipes.

Pear chutney, flanked by jars of applesauce (left) and pumpkin butter.

I found “The Complete Book of Home Preserving” by former New York Post food editor Ann Seranne at the Chicago Public Library. Doubleday & Co. published it in 1955, and judging by the stamps inside the book, it spent its first 20 years in the library system in the reference section. Then it got transferred to the Business & Industry Division, which is where I discovered it.

It was like hitting the jackpot for chutney recipes. I copied ones for apple, peach, pear and rhubarb. Then I dove into the sections on conserves, fruit butters and ketchups, which Seranne also calls chili sauces _ but more on those another time.

So far, I’ve only made the pear chutney because peaches and rhubarb are out of season, and I turned all our apples into applesauce. It’s great though. I like it on water crackers (I like everything on water crackers) with just a bit of cheese.

Pear Chutney circa 1955

3 1/2 pounds firm-ripe pears
3 cups golden raisins
3 cups sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
2 oranges (you need the grated rind and juice)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon allspice
1 cup broken pecans

Peel, core and chop the pears coarsely. Combine the pears with the rest of the ingredients except the pecans, bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for about 2 hours, or until the chutney is thick. Add the pecans 2 minutes before taking the chutney from the fire. Turn into hot bottles or jars and seal. It makes about seven half-pints.

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