Locavorian Progress & a Special Chutney Recipe

As the “wolf months” of winter progress, long before we’ll see any signs of spring, I am seeing signs of progress for the local food movement. My neighborhood coffee shop, Ozzie’s, now has a sign outside advertising that they use local milk.

the sign outside Ozzie's coffee shop

the sign outside Ozzie's coffee shop

A new indoor winter farmers’ market has opened five blocks away from me.When I first arrived it looked as though I might be the only customer

winter-marketbut the place quickly filled up.


My neighborhood supermarket now stocks Ronnybrook milk (they don’t take the bottles back or offer the bottle refund though. For that I still have to go to the farmers’ market).

It’s getting easier and easier to be a locavore in New York City.

In my last post I mentioned that a financial crunch had inspired me to live primarily out of my pantry for the month. Despite an unexpected and very welcome contribution from a concerned blog reader (thank you!!!), I have stuck with The Pantry Challenge for the most part. Honestly, it’s turning out to be not that different from how I’d be eating anyway. I have cheated once: I bought some flour at the farmers’ market. I’d run out, which meant that I was also out of bread. I did without for a week and then decided to give in and do some baking.

I’ve learned that if I was really going to eat exclusively from my stored foods, I’d have to blanch and freeze a lot more greens. I didn’t worry about this too much last year, mostly just froze whatever I couldn’t keep up with in my CSA share. There are some hardy greens (kale and the like) available year-round at the farmers’ markets here. This month, though, the spinach and tatsoi in my CSA winter share from Farmer Ted’s unheated greenhouses were especially welcome.

On a different note, here’s a recipe. I’ve fallen in love with lacto-fermented chutneys, so much so that I’m considering turning all the vinegar-based chutneys I canned into ketchup (ketchup is basically just pureed chutney). The flavor of these fresh chutneys is so good that I could (and do) eat them straight out of the jar, plus you get all sorts of health benefits that aren’t in the vinegar versions (lacto-fermented foods have good-for-you bacteria in them–think yogurt).

The recipe below is a Northeastern locavore’s variation on one by Sally Fallon (I swap in just a little vinegar to replace non-local lemon juice, and local honey instead of Rapadura). This chutney is an especially good use up for the storage apples and pears we’re getting at this time of year.

The only downside is that lacto-fermented foods take up refrigerator space. You could process them in a boiling water bath to make them shelf-stable, but don’t because that kills off those healthy bacteria.


Apple or Pear Chutney

Makes approximately 1 quart

3 cups fresh pears or apples, peeled, cored, and finely chopped

1/2 cup filtered water (the chlorine in straight tap water can halt the fermentation process)

1 tablespoon vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons whey* (if you’ve got yogurt in the house, you can make whey, see note below)

2 teaspoons sea salt

1/2 cup raisins (I used some that I got at a farmers’ market when I was in California, but other dried fruit would work, too)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon ground spicebush berries (or black pepper)

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

Combine the water, vinegar, honey and whey. Mix with the other ingredients and pack firmly into a quart-size glass jar, leaving at least an inch of head space. The liquid should come up to the top of the fruit. If it doesn’t, add a little filtered water.

Cover and leave at room temperature for 2 days. Refrigerate and leave for another week before eating. Will keep in the refrigerator for 2 months. Serve with rice, meat, cheese, whatever suits your fancy. I’ve been putting dollops of it on top of butternut squash soup, and that’s a heavenly combination.


If you drain yogurt through cloth or paper filters over a bowl, the liquid that separates out is whey. Drained yogurt is thicker than regular, and delicious. If you let it drain in the refrigerator for 24 hours you have something with the exact consistency of cream cheese, which is delicious on toast topped with some of that chutney you used the whey to make.


Botany, Ballet, & Dinner from Scratch: A Memoir with Recipes by Leda Meredith

4 responses to “Locavorian Progress & a Special Chutney Recipe”

  1. Miriam says:

    Leda, do you use the whey from kefir to make these chutneys?

  2. ledameredith says:

    No, alas, I’ve let my kefir-making slide, but you definitely could use the whey from it for the lacto-fermented chutney. I use the whey from drained/thickened yogurt.

  3. rachel oconnor says:

    leda, where is this farmer’s market?


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