Hot And Sweet Orange Chutney
From Slow Food Preservers

Slow Food Preservers of Los Angeles Certified Food Preservationist, Marcella Missirian, celebrates tradition and raises the bar with her California native alternative to cranberry sauce.

Growing up among orange and lemon groves in LA and her love of world travel, she’s upped the holiday favorites with her Hot & Sweet Orange Chutney – sweet, pungent, hot, savory, chewy with warm flavors of mustard, ginger and turmeric.

“Back in 2002 I was invited to an “orphan” Thanksgiving at a friend’s house.

This particular friend had a small catering business and lots of talented friends who loved to cook.

My friend the host, was making the turkey and a standing pork roast – for those of us who weren’t that fond of the traditional bird. We, in turn, were all assigned every other dish for our feast.

The caveat that everything must be homemade, locally sourced and the theme every year was traditional Thanksgiving dish with an ethnic take. That year was Indian and my assignment was sauces and gravy.

“I knew what I was going to make for the gravy – shallot and cracked pepper curry gravy, and I loved chutney.

For the traditional cranberry sauce, I wanted to make suitable substitute that was just as satisfying. Cranberries are not local to California so I chose to focus on citrus which is in the same flavor profile of cranberries – pungent – and is an essential ingredient in making traditional cranberry sauce.

“I spent my youth growing up among orange and lemon trees in Los Angeles and it being the fall and early winter, citrus is local and abundant in Southern California, plus citrus also pairs well with both turkey and pork.

“I knew how to make orange marmalade and I knew how to make a couple of different chutney’s.

I then took apart the Joy of Cooking’s recipe for Cranberry Chutney to come up with my recipe. Over the years, I’ve adjusted and modified my recipe to include deeper flavors and a greater combination of spices and fruit.”

For most of Marcella’s Thanksgiving holidays, meals consisted of many traditional American dishes like green bean casserole to yams and marshmallows and pumpkin pie.

But other traditional Armenian dishes life pilaf, hummus, tabbouleh, baklava and halva were always a big part of any celebration.

Her favorite dish was her mother’s kufta – lamb and pinenut stuffed meatballs, deep fried, traditionally served with a lemon wedge and labneh or Greek yogurt.

Instead of plain labneh her mother would make Indian Raita with cucumbers and cilantro from their home garden as a dipping sauce for the kufta. Marcella preferred the kufteh to turkey, hands down.

Marcella learned to cook and preserve at her mother and grandmother’s elbow, making her first batch of hummus, peeling and crushing the chickpeas and garlic by hand, at age 5. But her favorite part of learning to cook was in winter was it was citrus season! “Growing up in the 70’s, you could find more orange groves in and around LA.

I would wait every year for the first scent of the citrus blossoms that were always a welcome relief to the heat, heaviness and winds of late summer and early autumn. I could never get enough of the scent, often picking a bunch to give to my teacher so I could smell them all day in class and then grabbing oranges from the groves on the way home from school and just breaking oranges open without bothering to peel them, hastily smashing sections into my mouth, juice running down my cheeks and hands. It was like smelling, tasting and drinking sunshine.

I would walk the rest of the way home with my hands sticky and my mouth still filled the remnants of my sweet and pungent treat.”

Marcella loves roaming the Santa Monica Farmers Markets to find exotic citrus to make marmalades and her Sweet and Spicy Orange Chutney.

She experiments with different varieties of citrus such as blood orange, buddha’s hand, cara cara, kumquats, limequats and meyer lemons for her recipes.

She finds herself spending November to February canning as much citrus as she can to enjoy all year.

And canning lots of chutney in anticipation of the next holiday season to find out what deeper more complex flavors she can create. She still attends her friend’s orphan Thanksgiving every year, and no matter the theme, her Spicy and Sweet Orange Chutney is always requested.

Marcella Missirian is a Certified Food Preservationist with Slow Food Preservers of Los Angeles, https://sfpla.org.

HOT AND SWEET ORANGE CHUTNEY

YIELD: 6 pints   PREP/COOK TIME: 2-3 hours

7 large oranges (preferably navels)
2 lemons
5 large granny smith apples
3 large onions, chopped coarsely
2 cups malt or apple cider vinegar
1 cup orange juice (this in addition to the juice from the oranges)
1 cup of water
¼ cup lemon juice
1 1⁄2 cups dark brown sugar
3⁄4 cup golden raisin
1⁄4 cup fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
6 large garlic cloves, minced
2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoons mustard seed whole
1 1⁄2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Grate peel of off oranges and lemon. Remove and discard all white pith.

Supreme both lemons and oranges (Click here for How to Supreme)
Cut fruit into ½” cubes (reserve juices), discarding seeds.

Peel, core and coarsely chop apples. Transfer all fruit and juice to a large heavy dutch oven.
Add remaining ingredients and bring to simmer over medium-high heat.

Reduce heat and continue simmering until mixture is thick, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally and keeping a close watch the last 30-45 minutes of cooking. You want a thick, chutney that can just hold it shape when you dollop it onto a plate. According to your preference, you may want to cook it down further which will decrease yield.

Ladle hot chutney into 6 clean, hot pint jars to 1/2-inch from top rim of jar. Run plastic knife or spatula between chutney and jar to release any air bubbles. Clean rim and threads of jar with damp cloth/paper towel. Seal with new cleaned lid and band.

If not processing for shelf storage, place in refrigerator for up to 1 year.

LONG TERM SHELF STORAGE – WATER BATH CANNING:

Ladle hot chutney into 6 clean, hot pint jars to 1/2-inch from top.

Run plastic knife or spatula between chutney and jar to release any air bubbles.

Clean rim and threads of jar with damp cloth. Seal with new, cleaned, hot lid and band. Repeat with remaining jars.

Transfer jars to gently boiling (212°F) water bath canner or large stock pot with rack on bottom (jars must not be touching bottom of pot) with at least 1” of water covering top of jar.

Replace lid.  After the pot reaches a gentle boil again (212°F), process for 10 minutes.

Turn off heat and let jars sit in canner for 5 minutes. Carefully remove jars and let cool on rack for 24 hours.
Check that all jars are sealed (lid is concave in middle) and store up to 18 months in cool dry place.

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