Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Wisconsin State Fair: Door County Cherry Chutney
This afternoon, we'll be doing a cooking demonstration at the Wisconsin State Fair on behalf of the Wisconsin Cherry Growers Association. I've actually been wracking my brains for days over what to make, and I've finally decided upon the perfect recipe.
If you're not familiar with chutney, well, I'd encourage you to rush right out and make its acquaintance. Similar in consistency to a jelly, salsa, or relish, chutneys usually embody both sweet and sour flavors. Originating in India, these condiments can range in flavor from very sweet to quite sour. They can be mild or spicy, thin or chunky. And they can be made with fruits, vegetables or both.
Chutneys can be served with meat, poultry, seafood, desserts, and cheeses. Or they can be eaten as a snack, simply served with flatbread or crackers -- which is how we love to eat ours. One of our favorite snacks has always been a bit of spicy mango chutney spread atop a wedge of whole wheat pita bread.
But, despite my love for the mango, there is nary a more perfect condiment than a chutney made from Montmorency cherries, a light red "sour" cherry most often used for cherry pies, jams and preserves. After all, the cherries are fragrantly sweet, tart, plump, and intense in both flavor and color. They also stay impressively moist and plump, even when dried. Best of all, tart cherries are seriously good for you. They contain numerous antioxidants, as well as anthocyanins and bioflavonoids which may help in the relief of pain due to arthritis and gout.
If you're interested in a bit of history, I can tell you that the first Montmorency cherry orchard was planted on the Door County peninsula in Wisconsin in 1858. At the peak of Wisconsin cherry production, right around 1959, Door County actually produced 95% of the tart cherry crop in the U.S.. which contributed to the area becoming known as Cherryland USA. These days, Door County is still famous for its cherries.
We're in the midst of Door County Cherry season right now, which means this chutney is just perfect seasonal food. And I'm getting excited to share this amazing recipe.
If you're in the area, please feel free to join us. We'll be on stage at the Wisconsin Products Pavilion at 12-noon. And we'd love to see a few smiling familiar faces.
Of course, for those of you who can't make it, we'd be happy to share our recipe!
Door County Cherry Chutney
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Want more? Read Lo's latest ruminations at DEVOUR Milwaukee, her Milwaukee Magazine blog.