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I have chilis, lots of chilis, and not enough lemons ripe yet to make Chili Jam.  I’ve made some Pickled Chilis so as to have some chilis for curries and spicing up winter dishes, but I’ve still got chilis. And this year, the tamarillos have been really prolific.

I’m not a big preserve maker, nor do I freeze vegetables. I sun-dry tomatoes and make passata if I have enough, but I am lucky enough to live in a climate where,  if I plant sequentially and we eat seasonally, we can eat fresh all year. So preserves tend to just sit on the shelf looking decorative.

So if I make preserves, it’s not to preserve things but because the result is worth making all of its own account and not just to keep something for later.

The Recipe:

This recipe made these four jars – about 1.4 kg altogether.

The first thing to do is de-seed your chilis. I used about 40 medium sized chilis, but the recipe is forgiving. My chilis are medium-hot, and 40 sounds like a lot, but the resulting sauce is pleasantly spicy, not blast your socks off hot.  To de-seed them, chop the tops off  and swivel the point of a fine knife blade round inside them to loosen the seeds.  Use gloves or really, really remember not to touch your eyes for hours afterwards! Rinse under running water to remove most of the seeds.  There is no need to be very diligent about this. The more seeds you miss though, the hotter the resulting sauce will be.

I use a blender to make quick work of finely chopping the deseeded chilis, along with

  • 1½ cups of malt vinegar
  • 1 dessertspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of raw sugar
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic
  • a thumb of ginger, peeled
  • a thumb of fresh turmeric (or a teaspoon of dried)

Many metals will react with acid fruit and vinegar, so use a stainless steel or enamel pot.

Simmer the chili-vinegar-sugar mix with the flesh from 15 tamarillos (leave them chunky – just halve them and scoop out the flesh with a spoon), until the sauce has reduced and gone a bit syrupy – about 40 minutes.

While the sauce is cooking, put your jars and their lids on to boil for 10 minutes or pressure cook for 5 minutes to sterilize them. I just recycle any jars of the kind that the lid pops when you open them.

Ladle the hot sauce into hot sterilized jars. Screw the sterilized lid onto the jar. As the jar cools, the middle of the lid should pop in, showing that you have an airtight seal.  Wait until the jars are cool to wash the outside (cool water on hot jars will crack them).

The sauce will keep for several weeks in the fridge, so any that doesn’t completely fill a jar can be eaten first. It’s great with meat,  anything with cheese, lots of kinds of vegetable patties or fritters, on sandwiches ….

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I’ve made this chutney in bulk (scaled up to 8 cups of tamarillo flesh) with roast lamb for a wedding feast.  But the sweetness and acidity go really really well with kangaroo fillet, cooked on a barbeque or pan fried.

Kangaroo is the red meat I believe is the most ethical choice for Australians, for all sorts of reasons, and tamarillos are one of the easiest things of all to grow in sub-tropical climates. The tree does not cope at all with frosts, but if you can find a frost free site, it is a small, attractive, short-lived perennial tree that bears a really prolific crop of fruit that are immune to most pests and fairly resistant to the ravages of flying foxes or birds.

Tamarillos are my daughter’s very favourite fruit, but for most tastes they are a bit acid for fresh eating but they go really well as a tomato substitute in many recipes.

The Recipe

Scoop the flesh out of 7 tamarillos.  A dessertspoon is the best tool for this.

Put them in a pot with a little splash of water over a low heat.

Add

  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • a small thumb sized knob of ginger, grated
  • a small thumb sized knob of fresh turmeric, grated
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • a small onion, finely diced

The longer it is cooked, the better, but you can get away with simmering, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes or so.  Add a little more water if it gets too thick.

Right at the end, add 2 tablespoons of finely chopped herbs.  A mixture of basil or Thai basil, mint, and coriander or culantro work best.

Serve alongside any kind of meat, or on a sandwich with meat or cheese, or  with savory omelette, or with pakoras, or … you get the idea.

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