slow living: the beginning of preserve season
may brings with it the very beginnings of farmers’ market season around these parts, and the first seeds put into the ground without fear of frost for those of us more average/casual gardeners. in warmer climates, it’s proper growing season, and so we’re able to reap those benefits too! in my world, it means the beginning of preserve season, with many jars of jams and chutneys to be made over the coming months. i’ve kicked it off with some strawberry and herb jam, as well as my infamous mango chutney, which you can get the recipe for below.
first off, let’s chat berries! i made this recipe for the first time after finding some very ripe strawberries on sale at the grocery store. my aerogarden has some pretty intense basil and dill growing at the moment, so since i’d already raided some of the regular basil leaves for this treat the day before, i had an abundance of thai basil available and just enough mint to top it off without ruining my plants. i got one 500ml jar and one 125ml out of the deal, plus a tiny bit left over to scrape out for a taste test. let’s just say that this recipe will for sure be made again! possibly later in the season once the local u-pick gardens are good to go…
alright, next up, my infamous mango chutney. i’ve been making it for almost 10 years now, with one batch almost every year when the mangos go on sale. obviously they’re not local to canada, so i have to rely on healthy growing seasons elsewhere to produce enough mangos to result in full crates going on sale in the store (i never pay more than $1/mango, since more than that usually means it’s either the wrong season or a poor year for them). here in manitoba, we typically get either ataulfo or red mangos, but as you can see here, the local regions that grow them have many more species available. obviously play with what you have available to you to see what you like best. i’ve made my chutney with both types of mango we can access here, and for the last few years i tend to stick with ataulfo. crates generally have 9-10 mangos in them, which is just enough for a nice batch of a few jars (about half a dozen 125ml jars usually if you cook it down enough).
my recipe is adapted from this one from make zine. i vary from it very little, basically just skipping the raisins, upping the garlic, and adding a shit ton of cinnamon. it makes for a delicious and warm, comforting chutney that pairs great with chicken, burgers, veggie burgers (i first started making it when i was vegetarian/vegan and ate a lot of homemade lentil burgers), shelled seafood, vanilla ice cream, toast… fun fact: when samson and i were first starting to do photos together, i paid him for a headshot session (i was still in theatre back then) with jars of this chutney!
here are the ingredients that you’ll need:
2 cups sugar (i usually use raw since it’s what i have kicking around the house)
10 ataulfo mangos
2/3 cup fresh ginger
4 cloves of garlic (i usually up this to half a bulb of local garlic or a full bulb of grocery store garlic, depending on potency)
1 1/4 cup vinegar (usually apple cider since it’s what i have in the house)
a couple shakes of smoked paprika (very much related to my gramma here, i measure like she used to cook her perogies)
a whole lot of cinnamon (use your nose and your discretion for this one - i usually add a bunch at the beginning, then add more as it reduces down to make sure i can still smell it. this batch took 4 sticks added right from the beginning and pulled out before canning.)
follow their instructions for the actually cooking (basically just cut up the big stuff, toss it all in a big pot, and simmer it down until you’ve got a thick chutney ready to can and water bath), and you’re good to go!
the linens in these shots are actually family heirlooms that i’ve tossed into my dye pots at various points over the last few years. i inherited (called dibs on) most of the old linens and doilies from my mum’s side of the family, and while many are in impeccable shape given their age and regular usage, some have stains or small burn marks from where a candle or match likely touched them briefly during a fancy supper. naturally dyeing them gives them a fresh new life, and also reduces some of the worry that might come from having fresh white linens out around food to protect the wooden furniture (also mostly inherited heirlooms). i love having them in use around the house. i’ve been working on gathering some discarded linens from thrift stores around the city and giving them the same loving update in my dye pots, and will have them available for sale starting this fall. if you want to try dyeing your own, hang tight for my natural dyeing ebook for a place to get started.