At the end of each month, the can-jammers participating in Tigress’s Can Jam are delivered the news – a “secret ingredient” for the next’s month designed to extend their canning repertoires. January’s challenge was citrus, and I tried Roasted Lemon Marmalade. But the February challenge ingredient would be a tough day’s work for an Iron Chef – carrots!
Canned carrot pickles and chutneys? No.
Canned carrot jams? No.
I only really like carrots three ways: raw; roasted in orange juice, olive oil and herbs; or swimming in brown sugar and butter. Period. I was a victim of budget frozen carrot-and-pea combos in my youth. Now and then I’ll make a carrot soup I really like (heavily laced with ginger and citrus) or let a spare carrot sneak into a giardiniera (a mainly cauliflower and pepper refrigerator pickle.) But cooked carrots, one of the trickiest veggies to can? Oh no no no no no!
I researched recipes. I pulled out all of my canning cookbooks – even the ones form pre-1994 when the USDA revised their canning recommendations and said “canned carrots that aren’t pickled are a little too dangerous; don’t do that.” I briefly considered carrot cake jam or a daikon radish and carrot pickle – but I talked myself out of both of those recipes. I reviewed the other can-jammers’ recipes as they started posting this week, and slowly came around to the idea of a carrot-apple butter that sounded a lot like the carrot-ginger-citrus soup I like. I even found a couple recipes that used water bath canning – and I thought I might be able to tweak them to put my favorite flavors (orange and ginger and brown sugar) with the carrots.
And then it hit me – what is the taste that makes me want to use it in everything? No, not Nutella! I like Nutella – but for an all-purpose add-in, I like chipotle peppers better! This summer I made an Apricot Chipotle freezer jam for the NY State Fair – so good that I experimented with small batches of Pear Chipotle jam, Peach Lime Chipotle jam, and Chipotle-Corona mustard. And it seemed to me that carrots and apples and ginger and brown sugar just screamed for a little hit of chipotle peppers.
So, with a nod to the Tigress, who inspired me to take a harder look at carrot-apple butter, and a nod to Doris and Jilly for pushing me to think about canning carrots AT ALL – I offer this micro-batch trial of Chipotle Carrot-Apple Butter. Five perfect little half-cup jars are just out of the canner and lids are pinging now…and there were even a couple tablespoons left over to set aside in the fridge for a taste tomorrow morning. I expect that like my other chipotle-enhanced jams, this one will taste even better as it ages. But for what it’s worth, it tasted pretty good hot out of the canning kettle. I hope you enjoy it!
Chipotle Carrot-Apple Butter
1/2 lb. carrots
1 c. orange juice
1 lb. cooking apples (I used McIntosh)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1-3 tsp ground chipotle in adobo sauce (to taste)
2 tsp grated ginger
1 blood orange, sectioned
2 tsp grated orange zest
4 oz. canning jars and lids
- Top and tail the carrots and cut them into chunks. I used organic carrots less than 1″ diameter, so I didn’t peel them. If you are using thicker or older carrots, cut into slices so they cook faster. If you’re using non-organic carrots, peel them. Put the carrots into a non-reactive (enamel or stainless steel) kettle and add the orange juice, orange zest and grated ginger. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes.
- While carrots cook, quarter and core the apples. I left them in large chunks and didn’t peel them since I was putting them through a food mill. When carrots are fork-tender, add the apples to the kettle. Keep covered and simmer until carrots and apples are both are very soft.
- Put the carrots and apples through a food mill, or press them through a strainer. For a finer consistency, use an immersion blender on the mixture.
- Add the sugar to the fruit and carrot puree, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add in the chipotle puree, 1 teaspoon at a time, to your taste – I used two teaspoonsful. Heat the butter, stirring frequently, for 15-20 more minutes, or until it is thick enough to cling like a stiff batter to the back of a stirring spoon.
- When butter is thickened, remove from the heat and fill hot, sterilized jars. Leave 1/4 in. headspace, and remove air bubbles from the jar with a flexible spatula. Wipe the jar rims, place the lids and attach the bands, tightening until finger-tight.
- Process in a hot water bath according to the directions provided by the USDA for hot water bath canning, for 10 minutes. Make sure that at least an inch of water covers the jars in the canner when the water is boiling.
yield: approx. 2.5 cups or five 4-oz (1/2 cup) jars
UPDATE Feb 24: The Tigress posted her February Carrot CanJam round-up over at Tigress in a Pickle. Look here for what may be the biggest collection of water-bath canned carrot recipes on the ‘net.