Recipe: Persimmon & Turmeric Chutney
NZ Lifestyle Block writer Kristina Jensen celebrates preserving, persimmons, and her favourite Pip.
Words: Kristina Jensen
Good things start with the letter P in my life. Number one is my steadfast husband; Paul and I have just celebrated 32 years together. The second is preserving, one of my favourite things to do and an important part of living self-sufficiently.
The third P that’s high on the list is our friend Pip Aplin of D’Urville Island, who passed away in February 2021. Pip was a diminutive man with a big heart who made a strong impression on me when we met 12 years ago. He and wife Jeanette are wonderful examples of the pioneering Kiwi DIY attitude.
For the last 40 years, their home has been Iron Pot Bay on D’Urville’s west coast, nestled amid the wild isolation and rugged coastal features of New Zealand’s eighth largest island. Long before it was Instagram-trendy, they made a conscious choice to live simply and close to nature. They grew most of their food and worked on the island whenever possible to earn money.
Pip was a superb craftsman and builder, a no-nonsense character who was always ready to lend a hand to fix anything. Jeanette is a writer. Your children or grandchildren probably know her books: The Lighthouse Keeper’s Wife, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Children, and The Price of Bacon.
Pip and Jeanette’s lifestyle has inspired many of my life choices. We’ve regularly moored our boat in ‘their’ bay and spent days in lively discussions on self-sufficiency, gardening, environmental issues, and preserving. Paul and Pip loved to talk design. Model planes, dinghies, yachts, tiny houses. Pip thrived on ratting out design features, then thinking of improvements.
Their home is the most peaceful place. As the light fades, the kunekune pigs Jeanette breeds for sale snuffle off to bed, leaving just the soundtrack of the waves shushing on the shore below and the resident ruru (morepork) heralding in the darkness with their soft calls. When Jeanette’s not writing, she’s often preserving. Her office walls are lined with jars, ready for when guests arrive or for the winter months when fresh produce isn’t so readily available from their garden.
Jars of delicious homemade goodies are a joyful necessity for Paul and I, as we’ve lived much of our lives together in remote locations or on our boat. One fruit that’s always prolific at this time of year is the persimmon, but it’s taken me years to find a preserve that uses lots of persimmons and tastes good.
This year I’ll be making a batch and remembering my favourite Pip.
Persimmon & Turmeric Chutney
Persimmons are a perfectly pleasant fruit, with a ‘love it or hate it’ following. If you happen to be on the fence about persimmons, I hope to persuade you to try this positively phenomenal preserve.
I use Fuyu persimmons for this Asian-Indian fusion recipe, which I call Pip’s Memorial Chutney. If you’re unsure which persimmon variety you have, Fuyu (and other sweet-tasting varieties) are quite squat, with flat undersides. The tart ones tend to be longer and more narrow, similar to Roma tomatoes.
2 cups fresh turmeric root
10 persimmons – firm, but beginning to soften
1 litre of mango juice, preferably unsweetened
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup cranberries
the juice of 3 lemons
½ cup brown sugar
2 tsp sea salt
2 cinnamon sticks
3 whole cloves
1 tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cardamom
Peel and finely grate the turmeric roots – wear gloves to avoid your hands turning yellow. Peel and chop the persimmons.
Put all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pot and simmer on a very low heat for 30-50 minutes. Stir often to prevent burning (which will make it taste bitter).
As soon as the chutney starts to thicken and caramelise, it’s ready. Carefully spoon into sterilised jars. Keep in the fridge – it will last about a month, but we eat ours long before then.