Even if you’re a well-versed cook, there are certain foods you may not have ever considered making yourself. For example, when is the last time you made your own apple sauce, jam or chutney?
While preparing these staples from scratch does take more time than picking up a store-bought variety, the benefits to DIY are numerous, say experts.
“Making the foods you typically buy means you can skip the artificial flavors, preservatives and generous additions of sodium, sugar and fat that many store-bought foods use to ensure shelf life and profitability,” says Ivy Manning, food writer and author of the new cookbook “Better from Scratch,” a collection of more than 60 do-it-yourself recipes of kitchen staples. “Homemade foods can be more healthful and easier on the wallet.”
To give this a try at home, Manning is offering her recipe for Apple-Onion Chutney to be served as an accompaniment to roast pork loin or roast beef:
• 2 cups raisins
• 1 cup cider vinegar
• 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
• 4 lemon zest strips, each 1⁄2 inch and 2 inches long
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 large chopped yellow onions
• 4 lbs of good baking apples, such as granny smith or pippin, peeled, cored and chopped
• 3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
• 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
• Have ready 4 sterilized jars and their lids.
• In a nonreactive saucepan, combine the raisins, vinegar, brown sugar, zest strips, and cloves. Add 2 1/2 cups water and stir to mix well. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and set aside.
• In a large nonreactive saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 15 minutes. Add the raisin mixture and apples and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the apples are just tender, about 25 minutes. Add the mint and thyme and continue to cook until the apples are tender, about five minutes longer. Discard the zest strips.
• Ladle the hot chutney into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace and using a small rubber spatula to push the apple and onion pieces gently into the jar so they are covered with liquid. Slide a metal chopstick or thin tool down the side of each jar, between the glass and the chutney, four or five times to release air bubbles. Adjust the headspace, if necessary, then wipe the rim of each jar clean and seal tightly.
• Store the jars in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
From condiments to pickles to crackers, consider taking the next step in your kitchen adventures and going DIY.