Naturally Sweetened Apple & Cinnamon Chutney (with Blue Cheese)

Homemade Holiday, Intentional Giving
This time of year I’m rounding out my canning for the year. Although I’ve been known to preserve things at random in the middle of the year, this is the home stretch of seasonal canning. (Example: Preserved Cherries Jubilee, made in February) Its just perfect that slowing down with my canning coincides with the holidays. Stocking my pantry with home preserved goods like homemade chunky applesauce and tangy cranberry preserves allows my family to enjoy homemade seasonal favorites all year around. Nothing is more satisfying than reaching into my cupboard for homemade goods I’ve preserved myself. I especially love sharing my hand made treats with others. Its extra special, entirely intentional gift giving. It’s not an afterthought, or a last minute gift. It’s something packaged with care with the intention of sharing. This time of year we often get overwhelmed with the excess. Its the season of giving, its the season of greed. (and debt) Making homemade, hand made gifts is a way to kindly extend yourself and honestly, it does make a great last minute gift if needed. (Did someone appear on your holiday list? Reach into the pantry. Voila!) Instead of cash, gift cards, or sweaters that will live in the back of someones closet, homemade gifts are a way to give a piece of yourself. Intentional giving, is sharing your heart, and affordably sharing some health. Without preservatives, chemicals and manufactured foods you are processing your own memories. 

Naturally sweetened apple and cinnamon chutney is a perfect example of a unique, bold treat that is perfect for sharing. You can find nothing like it in most stores, its bold and quite delicious. Naturally sweetened with honey, perfectly sour and spicy this chutney is great with blue cheese. Serve on a cheese platter with a variety of cheese, fruit and crackers, or serve with chicken, sausage or pork chops. Its equally great on a biscuit, (or sandwich) and absolutely perfect by the spoon full.

Naturally Sweetened Apple & Cinnamon Chutney
2 cups red onion, thinly sliced (half of a large onion)
2-3 cups apples peeled, cored and sliced (3-4 small apples)
3/4 cup honey (or other sweetener) 
1 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup raisins
Pinch, Coarse sea salt
Yields Approximately 12 ounces (2-3 four ounce jars)
In a medium sized sauce pot saute onion with a small quantity of oil, or use non stick cooking spray to prevent sticking. Add vinegar and simmer until the onions have softened. (5-8 minutes) Add apples, honey, cinnamon and salt. Simmer until the apples have just begun to soften. You can further simmer it to have a much softer mixture. (If you want a chunky chutney cube your apples into bite sized pieces.) Stir in raisins and place into sterile jars. Process in a boiling water bath 8-10 minutes, or store in the refrigerator for up to one month.  
To serve, crumble blue cheese on top. Serve with meat, cheese or bread.
Note: Do not process with blue cheese. Blue cheese must be kept separately.

Why naturally sweetened? According to many people the human body absorbs natural sweeteners better than standard sugars. Natural sweeteners are used in traditional foods because it is originally what was used to sweeten food. Our ancestors used honey, maple syrup and raw sugars because refined was simply not an option. In recent years agave nectar has become all the rage for its “diabetic friendliness.” Said to not peak your blood sugar, natural sweeteners are believed to be absorbed more slowly by the body. Subscribe to the ideal if you’d like, I’m kind on the fence. 
Why not Raw Honey, isn’t it healthier? This recipe uses standard run of the mill honey from the market. By definition honey is good for you. It is a whole, healthy food because of its natural, local pollen and enzymes. In recent news its been pointed out that most honey on the shelves in America is not actually “honey.” It has been severely pasteurized, and processed. All of the natural health benefits have been ravaged and let’s be honest, it is essentially honey flavored syrup. With that said, I opted not to go with raw honey because the honey is basically pasteurized both while simmering, as well as canning. You can sweeten this with honey, sugar or even maple syrup if you would like. (I opt to avoid maple syrup with canning, this recipe specifically because there are bold flavors where maple syrup will just not be apparent.) 
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