Last weekend instead of going to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child we postponed the show. I had more time to make chutney. It is quite a bit of work to peel the tomatoes. Juice goes everywhere and my hands get soggy and wrinkly. But it makes a difference not to find bits of tomato skin in the chutney.
All around us life is closing in: borders closing, businesses struggling, stage shows becoming an unnecessary luxury, sport being played without an audience, people staying home. In other countries schools and shops are told to close but Australia is just sticking to restricting social gatherings. For now. So much is changing that more restrictions seem likely.
People's panic buying is so odd. A few days ago I was in the supermarket and took a photo of shelves bare of toilet paper but the health food shelves with lots of food available (See above two photos). So this is how we fight a pandemic! We saw shelves denuded of hand wash when there was still loads of body wash, with no white flour but some wholemeal flour left, and all pasta gone except the gluten free pasta. I went to a Middle Eastern store and was able to buy a 12.5kg bag of flour when there was none in the supermarket. Small local stores still had enough because Australia still has enough. Yesterday I finally saw some toilet paper in the supermarket again but then I gave some flour to a friend for a birthday cake for a friend today.
Yesterday we went to the farmers market. It was incredibly busy. I heard someone say people need to get out of the house and want to go shopping in fresh air. It seems everyone wants to support the farmers too. In Australia the CoVid19 has come hot on the heels of the bushfire crisis so we have anxiety upon anxiety. I think of those people who lost their houses in the fires and are still waiting to go home, while we are being told to spend more time in our homes.
The anxiety upon anxiety has also given us a feeling of fragility of life. We have lost so much self-sufficiency. We are dependent on supermarkets and shops and public transport and wide networks of people beyond our local area. I look back to my grandparents time of chickens and vegies in the backyard, and cooking from scratch in the kitchen. CoVid19 bring us to reflect in a different way about why they preserved fruits and vegetables and prized tinned goods.
And so I felt I was channeling my foremothers in many ways as I made the chutney. I have tried resist panic buying. In the supermarket I feel like I need everything but I have to remind myself there is plenty to go round. But I catch myself thinking through how I can survive if I can't get to the shops. I have comforted myself if it gets really bad I can exist on rice, legumes, frozen peas and a spoonful of chutney stirred through. For the moment thought we have plenty of food. And I still have to learn more about chutney making and seasoning but I am grateful I can preserve fruit and vegetables this way, that I have my sourdough starter and can make do.
- Who needs toilet paper anyway: here are some alternatives - stuff.co.nz
- The science of soap - here's how it kills the corona virus - The Guardian
- Looking after your mental health during the Corona Virus outbreak - Beyond Blue
- Norman Swan answers your coronavirus questions on pregnancy, asthma, pools and schools - ABC News
- 'Tip of the iceberg': is our destruction of nature responsible for Covid-19?- The Guardian
- CoronaVirus and why you must act now - The Medium (and there is a follow up article)
- Young and Unafraid of the Coronavirus Pandemic? Good for You. Now Stop Killing People- Newsweek
- World-Meter - coronavirus stats for world and by country (and per head of population)
It has taken me so long to write this post that the situation keeps changing. The latest today is that the government is meeting later today to discuss closing down schools, restaurants and more. Possibly by the time you read this, the situation will have changed again.
I hope you are coping ok with the Corona Virus outbreak: minimising risk, keeping up social connections, and feeling healthy.
More chutney recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Apricot chutney (gf, v)
Paradise chutney (gf, v)
Plum chutney (gf, v)
Pumpkin chutney (gf, v)
Tomato kitchen sink chutney (gf, v)
Tomato and apricot chutney
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe
Makes about 6-8 jars
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp brown mustard seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds
4 cloves (or a cinnamon stick)
3 shallots, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
12 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 kg tomatoes, peeled and chopped
900g apricots, chopped
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup raw sugar
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tsp chilli paste
1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp cornflour
Heat olive oil over low heat in a large saucepan. Add fennel and mustard seeds and heat until they pop. Stir in the cloves. Now add the onion, celery, and garlic (I added them gradually as I chopped them) and fry for about 10 to 15 minutes until softening. Remove cloves (not easy as they look like all the mustard seeds)!
Add remaining ingredients and check seasoning. (I left mine in the saucepan for a few hours at this point before simmering.) Bring to the boil and simmer for between 1-2 hours. I found I simmered at a higher temperature at the start and then reduced the heat as it got thicker and more bubbly. It is ready when chunky chutney consistency and not much liquid left. At the end the liquid and fruit was till separating so I added some cornflour and brought it to the boil.
While chutney is simmering, sterilise your jars and lids. I baked mine for 30 minutes in the oven at 150 C and boiled the lids on the stovetop for 10 minutes, then dried them on a rack. I find it easy to put all the jars in a roasting dish so I am not having to handle them individually.
Once chutney is ready and still hot, ladle into a jar and screw on the lid (using rubber gloves or oven mitts if hot to handle). As the chutney cools the metal lids should depress, which is a sign of them being sealed. Store in a cool place. This made about 4 medium jars (375ml) and 3 smaller jars (250ml).
NOTES: Highly recommend eating chutney in a sandwich with cheese, walnuts, spinach and sliced plums.
On the Stereo:
Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent: Lewis Capaldi