You may remember the quinces (2 lb. 4 oz.) I was given by my friend. My MIL tasted them and after her face stopped puckering she happily concluded that we could make an Indian atchar (a kind of chutney) out of them.
I cut and cored the small, hard and dry quinces – peeling them was fortunately not necessary for this recipe. I put them in a jar with a spoonful of salt (for taste) and a little bit of turmeric (anti-septic) (*) and shook them so every surface was coated.
Then we put them on a screen to dry in the sun (that’s the herb spiral behind it: it has grown up!). The quinces should be dried through and through. This will help in the preservation of the atchar.
This is how they do it in India, and they actually make the entire preparation in the sun. Over here, however, it finally decided to rain, so we had to continue in the kitchen, on the stove.
Mix the dried quince with melted “jaggery” (“gur”) (*), which is raw crystallized cane sugar. This is stirred on very low heat until big bubbles appear and the contents of the pan no longer stick to the sides of the pan. Then allow it cool. When cool, mix it with 1 teaspoon (or to taste) roasted and then ground “panch phoron” (*), literally “5 spices,” which are fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, onion seeds (kala jheera), mustard seeds and celery seeds. Let it set, store.
If possible t, take it through these two stages in full sun in a wooden bowl, until it is a sticky mass. This will take up to five to six days of full sun. Scrape and store in jars.
This yielded 1 pints: one 1/2 pint jar for us and one for my friend.
(*) for sale at the average Indian grocery store. For the jaggeri you can substitute crystallized maple sugar, or raw brown sugar.
I’ve also made and canned 19 pints of blueberry jam and 8 pints of plum preserves. For my birthday I was given 20 lbs of self-picked, perfect white peaches, half of which were eaten, half of which I want to turn into peach jam peach-cranberry jam tomorrow. I also hope to score some more fruit at the Farmers Market tomorrow. My jams are very popular with our friends and especially their kids, so I am making more than our household can consume in a year.
Realizing that all the food within the local food shed (friends’, Farmers Market’s) is also sustainable (i.e., “my” food) has been liberating for me!