Towards the end of summer the profusion of wild rose hips lining the pathways to the beach taunt me, a lush abundance of red and orange orbs ready for the taking. I know they're edible and useful for something but the combination of ignorance, indifference and sloth halted any urges of investigation until this recipe for rose hip and mango chutney. Another thing: they appear to have a supernatural affinity to poison ivy, the thorns of Rosa Rugosa at their sharpest just as the poison ivy leaves turn crimson. Undoubtedly some Satan's pact.
Unlike so many other things one puts off indefinitely (dieting, washing the car, doing something with all those CDs) we actually got into gear this summer. We slathered on the bug spray, piled on the heavy protective clothes and set out to get us some.
The first good news to report is there are enough thickets at the nearby beaches to allow us to pass on the thoroughly poison ivy-saturated patches.
Second benefit: not nearly as scratchy as gathering beach plums.
And, as stated, there are lots of them so it was a pleasant hour or two collecting a big batch.
Back home consulting various cookbooks it seemed that Rose Hip Jelly is the generally accepted primary use. But a care package had just come from friends down in Miami Beach — heavy, heavenly mangoes from their backyard trees. And as we were running low on chutney, I figured this would be a good combo. And chutney would have the added benefit of showing actual pieces of rose hips, rather than reducing them to a clear liquid, as one does for jelly.
The mango slicer worked its magic. Based on previous posts and some vitriol posted on my How to Pit a Mango YouTube demo it's clear that there are those who poo-poo this wonderful tool. There are also plenty of people out there who have cut themselves peeling these slippery treats.
Chutney makers know that this is a very tolerant genre. Chunks of disparate ingredients, a good balance of sweet and sour and some key spices work their magic every time. And like jams and preserves, chutney is a welcome gift — as opposed to some of my more exotic offerings which have a way of disappointingly showing up years later in friends' cabinets. (Not snooping, maybe just getting a glass or helping to make dinner. I do not do follow-up checks.)
Back at home at Springy Banks Cannery we found that the thin walls of the rose hips reveal a surprising amount of undesirable seeds. Splitting them open and scraping the seeds out isn't hard, but it takes some time as we had quite a lot of them. Luckily this was one of those meditative and exacting tasks at which Steve excels.
To add an extra fillip of the exotic, I added some tamarind. There's something about this flavor, slightly astringent, tangy, unique. These tamarind balls from Jamaica also concealed a number of seeds. I just mushed them through my fingers and picked the seeds out. Dried, sweetened cranberries also added a nice touch. Too bad about that name — Craisins. But what can you do?
3 c. cleaned rose hips – tops trimmed off, cut into quarters and seeds scooped out and discarded
3 mangoes, peeled and cubed (about 4 c. of cubes)
6 sweetened tamarind balls, seeds removed
2 T. finely minced garlic
1 T. hot red pepper flakes
2 c. cider vinegar
2 1/2 c. light brown sugar
1 c. Craisins (the Ocean Spray brand name for sweetened dried cranberries)
1 t. ground allspice
Stir everything together in a heavy deep pot and simmer for 30 minutes or more — you want the the chutney to reduce enough so that it stops looking like pieces of fruit amidst a vinegar/sugar solution.
Pour into hot sterilized jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.