Daring Cooks September: pear chutney and quick tomato jam

The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

(this first part of the post is written by Mr Neil who stepped in to the rescue when my hand injury made it impossible for me to either cook or type. It’s slowly healing but I thank my lucky stars that I had some posts up my sleeve…)

What to do with an old pear tree in the backyard, and a plethora of unpicked pears?  Well, make pear chutney, of course!  Mardi was needing a pear recipe to share for the Ontario Tender Fruit Producers, one of her generous IFBC sponsors and there were pears for the picking in our backyard so it seemed a serendipitous choice.

I’ve never had much success with our tree.  Old beyond means, it shoots skyward requiring major pruning at its top every couple of years.  Less productive is the fruit it produces…though it must be said I never do anything to assist.  This year was different.  For whatever reason, the crop was bountiful.

Usually they rot very quickly.  Squirrels just love our garden late summer.  So my neighbour and I picked two large piles that were still nice and green and hard.  I guess the trick is to pick them “before they’re ripe”, as otherwise the fruit starts to nourish the seeds very quickly.  As this is Mr. Neil, there is not photographic evidence of the process!

Suffice to say peeling, coring and chopping 30+ pears was a laborious task.

For the chutney itself, I turned to three of my most-trusted resources:  Bittman, Becker/Rombauer and Phillips.  Not a law firm, but “How to Cook Everything” by Mark Bittman (an excellent book), “The Joy of Cooking” (still a trusty resource) and of course, my mother (childhood memories of waking to the nasal-piercing boiling vinegar).

Chutney is basically just a savory jam, and for me an essential side-dish to curries.  Cooked chutneys (as opposed to fresh) were prepared in India exclusively for the English – hence their being a staple in my childhood home.  While usually green mango, most any fruit can be made into chutney.  And as I had a few dozen pears on hand…

And how did our final product come out?  Well, paired with homemade butter chicken (recipe and wine pairing to come soon), it was delightful.  A lot of work for only five jars – but will definitely be making chutney on a regular basis.  It’s easy and flavourful.

(back to your regular blogger here with a much less ambitious undertaking!)

I had totally intended to make a tomato bruschetta mix, having received some lovely grape tomatoes from our organic delivery and using up some of our sweet yellow grape tomatoes from our garden (about a cup of them in total).

I went as far as blanching them to remove their skins when I realised that they were not really ideal for this recipe – the flesh was falling apart and they were way too seedy.  So I improvised – I sautéed three small cloves of garlic in a little olive oil and then added the tomato flesh and about 4 tablespoons of brown sugar to caramelise.  It took about 10 minutes to thicken to a jam-like consistency and I let it cool a little before tasting it on toasted baguette with some fresh basil:

I *loved* this. So tasty, but easy and quick!  I also had this with some blue cheese and the sweet jam cut the sharpness of the cheese beautifully.  I have other plans for this jam too, very soon…

47 Responses to Daring Cooks September: pear chutney and quick tomato jam

  1. penny aka jeroxie September 14, 2010 at 06:41 #

    I will have some of that tomato jam please!

  2. Belinda @zomppa September 14, 2010 at 07:19 #

    This is a great recipe!! Love the combination. Gorgeous photos – I wish I had a pear tree!

  3. Jenni September 14, 2010 at 07:19 #

    Lovely job!! Your chutney looks amazing!!

  4. Sharlene (Wheels and Lollipops) September 14, 2010 at 07:30 #

    The pear chutney looks amazing, I could see this pairing very well with a roquefort ! I need to do my post !!

  5. Jenn September 14, 2010 at 08:36 #

    Oh both the chutney and tomato jam sound so wonderful!! I think I will have to try a jam like that! Great job, even without a canning kit 🙂

  6. Suzie the Foodie September 14, 2010 at 08:47 #

    Photos are fabulous and I love the storytelling going on here Mardi. I once got a giant box FILLED with pears, there must have been a hundred of them so I can totally relate. I made jars of pear butter, pear and cranberry crumble, poaches pears… Your chutney and tomato jam look and sound absolutely fabulous! Beautiful post.

  7. Barbara Bakes September 14, 2010 at 09:00 #

    That tomato jam looks amazing. Hope your hand is feeling much better.

  8. Mary September 14, 2010 at 09:13 #

    Great team work this month! You’re so lucky to have a pear tree, and both things look delicious.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite September 16, 2010 at 11:21 #

      Cheers and yes, it was somewhat of an accident that Neil ended up making my DC challenge for me!

  9. candice September 14, 2010 at 09:19 #

    ::Sigh:: I wish I had a garden. 🙁 on my small patio (in my condo) I have a strawberry plant and a pineapple mint plant but oh to have a pear tree! Lucky! The chutney looks great and the jam, awesome! Might have to try I have about 20 tomatoes here..

  10. Evelyn September 14, 2010 at 10:01 #

    Hi there: You are such a tease, now my mouth is watering and I can’t find the recipe for Pear Chutney! Can you help me?

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite September 16, 2010 at 11:12 #

      It’s from the book “How to Cook Everything” – Neil picked up some hints from reading around a few places and improvised a bit too 😉

      EDITED to add: Ahem. yes the recipe part was accidentally left off this post. Ahem! It’s there now!

  11. Rochelle (Acquired Taste) September 14, 2010 at 10:01 #

    The tomato bruchetta looks delicious! I wanted to do something with tomatoes too but, like you didn’t have the equipment to do any canning.

    The pear chutney looks fabulous! I love that you were able to get yours out of your own backyard too 😀

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite September 16, 2010 at 11:07 #

      Yes I actually really wanted to do the proper canning but didn’t have the proper equipment. And yes, I love the backyard element too!

  12. Evelyne@cheapethniceatz September 14, 2010 at 10:22 #

    You have a pear tree? Oh so lucky. Both recipes looks just so tasty, great job. Hope you hand heals fast, sorry about your injury!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite September 16, 2010 at 11:01 #

      Yes we’ve had it for years – it’s so old and it’s never had edible fruit before. So excited for this year’s crop!

  13. Kristina September 14, 2010 at 10:36 #

    Way to turn it around! I love a good failure-turned-into-success story.

  14. Val Outmezguine September 14, 2010 at 11:49 #

    It all looks amazing! From the pear chutney, to your tomato jam and of course , your butter chicken, err rather no-butter chicken! I’m inspired.

  15. Paula - bell'alimento September 14, 2010 at 14:21 #

    I’ll have a spoonful or two of both ; ) <3 Chutneys & Jams. Scrumptious Mardi!

  16. Anna Johnston September 14, 2010 at 20:41 #

    I have only tasted Tomato Jam just once & I loved it, I’ve never found the recipe & somehow I’d forgotten (until I read your post) how much I loved it and want to try it again. So thanks so much for the recipe. It sounds wonderful.

  17. chef_d September 14, 2010 at 23:51 #

    The tomato jam looks delicious! The pear chutney looks so good and I’m getting hungry just looking at it on the plate with the rice and meat! Great job on this challenge 🙂

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite September 16, 2010 at 10:58 #

      Yes the chutney was great with Indian food but also I can see it with other meats in sandwiches etc..

  18. Conor @ HoldtheBeef September 15, 2010 at 04:24 #

    Those squirrels think they’re so smart, but you don’t see them making delicious chutney do you? Nuh uh. Well, I guess they may have a clandestine chutney making laboratory somewhere… you don’t have inexplicable spikes in your power usage do you?

  19. Apeksha September 15, 2010 at 06:54 #

    Your little yellow tomatoes are oh-so-cute! Almost too pretty to eat 🙂

  20. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction September 15, 2010 at 19:19 #

    I have heard good things about tomato jam lately, but have not made any of my own. I’ll have to give that a try. Yum!

  21. rebecca September 15, 2010 at 20:55 #

    wow that jam looks amazing

  22. Evan @swEEts September 15, 2010 at 21:41 #

    You make me want a pear tree! Sounds delicious.. I got into a canning kick this summer.. such an easy way to preserve delicious fruits!

  23. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite September 16, 2010 at 15:33 #

    Right then, Having discovered that I left out the actual recipe, I have edited the post to add it. Sorry about that. Dealing with hand and a new version of word that formatted the pages strangely, I thought I was copying the whole document, not just the one page. Sorry about that. It’s a great recipe 🙂

  24. Pauline Horn December 6, 2010 at 04:00 #

    Talking of tomato jam … We’ve got a tree tomato (Cyphomandra betacea) in the backyard and I would like to cook jam from the many fruits it bear every season because we don’t like it to go to waste. Where can I get hold of a recipe?

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite December 6, 2010 at 05:35 #

      Pauline, I put the ratios that I used in the post – it was a bit haphazard but it worked out!

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