I think I can.

 

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Deep breath.  I think I can. I think I can. And off I go – into the world of blogging.

 

As a big fan of double entendres and all things punny, I thought it would be fun to use a canning recipe for my first ever blog post.  Get it?  “I think I can“?  Of course you do.

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In all seriousness though, this Brandied Pear and Cranberry Chutney has been in my holiday line-up for many years now.  I stumbled across the inspiration for this recipe on a website called “The Cranberry Lady”. Although the website no longer exists in its previous form and I have adapted the recipe to make it my own, this chutney has had an enduring impact on my palate.  I love this chutney.  It’s festive, interesting, and versatile.  Use it when you make a brie en croute or for cheddar and chutney sandwiches.  Or pair it with a pork roast or turkey for a holiday spread.  It really is lovely.

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Brandied Pear and Cranberry Chutney
Makes 12 8 oz. jars

2 12 oz bags of cranberries, washed
8 pears, peeled and chopped
5 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup of raisins
3/4 cup of candied ginger, chopped
zest and juice of 2 lemons
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp allspice
3 cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup of cider vinegar
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of brandy

Prepare a boiling water bath and 12 8 oz. jars.

1. Combine all of the ingredients with the exception of the brandy in a non-reactive vessel (e.g., stainless steel or enamel) that can hold at least 5 1/2 quarts.
2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved and most of the cranberries have burst, about 20 minutes.
3. Add the brandy and cook over medium-low heat for an additional ten minutes, until the chutney is syrupy.
4. Turn the heat off, then funnel the chutney into the prepared jars.
5. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings and process in the water bath for 15 minutes.

Alicia’s notes on canning: I used to be horribly intimidated by the prospect of canning. It seemed so complicated and I was terrified I would do something wrong and someone would end up with botulism! But it also seemed quaint and lovely and fun so I faced my botulism fears and gave it a whirl. After a couple of batches, I realized it’s really quite simple. And I’ve been canning ever since.

I found the “Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving” and “The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest: 150 Recipes for Freezing, Canning, Drying and Pickling Fruits and Vegetables” to be really helpful primers. They walk you through the canning process, step-by-step, and offer some great recipes to boot.

I hope you are inclined to give canning a try – I bet you’ll delight in the *pop, pop, pop* sound of the jars sealing as much as I do.

Alicia’s notes on the above recipe: Please don’t spend hours chopping slices of candied ginger as I did the first couple of years I made this recipe when sliced candied ginger was all I could find. Use a food processor, instead! Also, I like to use pears that are *just* ripe in this chutney. If the pears aren’t quite ripe, they don’t acquiesce to the flavor and form of the chutney as nicely, and if they are over-ripe, they become a little mushy. *Just* ripe is just right in this instance.

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