Canning on board: papaya chutney

Some amount of eating from cans is a reality for most cruising boats. Between limited refrigeration, passage making (19 days at sea to the Marquesas!), and minimal resources available in some of our destinations- it’s necessary to keep our bodies happily fueled.

removing labels from cans
Provisioning staples for six months – Mexico, 2010

Much better than buying commercially canned food, though, is canning your own. No BPA. No unpronounceables. So much more tasty. The delicious conundrum of whether to use that peach butter for toast, or a fuzzy navel.

Canning food brings with it childhood memories and associations with people I love- making blackberry jam with my grandmother, bringing home pickles from Jamie’s mother. Borne from necessity, it became nourishment for the soul as well as the body.

And just as our grandmothers know, it’s also a great way to take advantage of local bounty. This is what got me back into canning when we were in Mexico: mountains of gorgeous fresh papayas, coupled with the prospect of weeks at sea during our passage to French Polynesia. The fact that we would face limited (and expensive) food when we arrived didn’t help. I made several large batches of papaya chutney, and it turned out to be the perfect addition to kick up many meals on board.

Later this year, we’ll be spending a few months sailing through Papua New Guinea. In almost every place we expect to stop, there aren’t going to be any grocery stores. We’ll trade for fresh produce, but to keep things interesting (and at least a tiny bit predictable), I’ll be getting busy canning before we leave.

Good news for me: papayas will be coming into season here just in time for our departure!

Totem’s Papaya chutney
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp finely chopped ginger
Grated rind of an orange
1 c vinegar
1 ½ c sugar
Spice it up: pinch in cloves, cardamom, cinnamon
Spice it up a little more: dash in hot sauce to taste
1 large, firm papaya, peeled and chopped

In a saucepan, combine garlic, ginger, orange rind, vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil, then add remaining ingredients. Simmer until sauce thickens. I process these minimally, similar to the method here.

4 Responses

  1. Oooo, I am heading to my dad’s in Hawaii in a couple of days and his land is FULL of papaya trees. I hope we can give this a try while we’re there. I have never canned, but maybe doing it with my parents for a first try will set me in the right direction… Thanks Behan!

    1. absolutely! I usually like mango chutney to skew toward hot and sweet, but less savory, if that makes sense. This recipe is very flexible: think of it as a rough guideline and improvise away!

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