Across the corrugated tin "fence" that separates our yard from Priscilla and Henry's orchard, I receive a 2 x 2 foot box filled with mountain apples.
The tree she stands beneath is massive; it must top out at 40 feet and is at least 10 across. The blossoms fall in hot pink strands that carpet the soil, in what I imagine, any 6 year-old girl would drool to have on her bedroom floor.
Such a vibrant tree putting out a pretty fruit that's disappointingly bland. This strange fruit is more pear than apple really; the flesh is soft and its shape too, reminds me of a pear.
Priscilla routinely gives me quantities of whatever is fruiting in her yard. I can't possibly keep up with her generosity, so I try to come up with new ways to hand her a bit of her own harvest back over the fence.
I've baked with mountain apples in the past, with mediocre results. But this time I'm armed with a new discovery, a book given to me by my husband earlier this month: Home Made Winter, by Yvette Van Boven. I could gush shamelessly about the charm, reliability and genius of this tome, but I'll leave it to you to visit for yourself.
So far I've followed her guidance on making yogurt, butter, cakes, and now for the mountain apple, her chutney. I replace the apples with mountain apples and the tomatoes with canned tomatoes. I am also a fan of the organic dark brown sugar for its molasses content. The results were fantastic. Chutney is an Indian condiment, but for me it's divine on buttered bread or as my friend Meg advised, a fun addition to her coleslaw. Regardless, it's a wonderful remedy for an abundance of fruit.
In a second batch I made use of the choyote squash; farmers markets are overflowing with them right now. I used equal amounts of each.
Mountain Apple Chutney
21/4 lb mountain apples or equal amounts choyote and the apple
2 cans of diced tomatoes with juice
2 clove garlic
1/2 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon black or yellow mustard seeds
12 tablespoon hot style curry powder
a grind of nutmeg
2 teaspoon salt
21/2 cups cider vinegar
In a large pot place the diced fruit in 21/2 cups water. Simmer for 25 minutes. Don't allow to dry out. Add a bit more water if necessary.
Add remaining ingredients. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, then bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 3 hours. Stir occasionally.
Spoon the hot chutney into sterilized jars. Makes around 41/2 cups and fills three large jars and one small. Wash double lidded jars in soapy water, rinse and put in a 285 degree oven for 10 minutes. Don't use metal lids, as they react with the acid of the tomato.
Seal and set them upside-down until cool. Yvette suggests waiting a month to eat. I gave away and my impatient friends said they ate immediately and loved it. So there ya go!