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Chutney preserves pineapple’s shine

Pineapple brightened this week’s food section.

The peak-season fruit that inspired some bright recipes more often is consumed in my household as a snack or mealtime side dish. Pineapple disappears almost as fast as I can trim it, skin it and slice it up for my family.

But often a few pieces linger a bit too long in the fridge, where they darken enough to lose their appeal. Occasionally, I overbuy pineapple, and a larger part of fruit is past its prime by the time it goes under the knife.

What to do with those pieces of pineapple that have lost their shine? This chutney recipe would be the perfect solution.

Created last summer by the Los Angeles Times, it’s inspired by Britain’s beloved Major Grey’s chutney, an Indian-influenced condiment typically made with mango. I love its use of the entire vanilla pod, which I loathe discarding once I’ve scraped out the seeds for other recipes. Simmering the pod in fruit compote or steeping it in sugar still sends it to the compost bin.

While the recipe by writer Ben Mims calls for mezcal, tequila’s smoky cousin, it also could be made with tequila, regular rum, even whiskey or bourbon, which I typically keep on hand. Admittedly, the chosen spirit adds nuance but ultimately cedes ground to pungent ginger, onion and garlic.

Serve this chunky sweet condiment alongside smoked meats, grilled turkey or chicken, salmon or grilled lobster and shrimp. I’d also swap it out for sweet chile sauce to complement deep-fried coconut shrimp, even the shrimp lettuce wraps previously posted.

Tribune News Service photo

Pineapple Chutney With Mezcal and Vanilla Bean

1/2 whole vanilla bean

2/3 cup mezcal

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt

1 pound peeled and cored pineapple flesh, cut into 1/4-inch dice (from half of a large pineapple)

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup peeled and finely chopped, fresh ginger

1 small yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 small garlic clove, peeled and finely grated

1/2 cinnamon stick

Using a paring knife, split the vanilla bean pod in half lengthwise. Using knife tip, scrape out seeds and transfer them to a small bowl. Very thinly slice vanilla pod, then run your knife through it a few times to make sure it’s very finely minced. Transfer chopped pod to bowl as well.

Bring the mezcal to a boil in a medium saucepan and cook until reduced by half, for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, both sugars, the lime juice and salt to dissolve sugar, then add reserved chopped vanilla bean and its seeds, the pineapple, raisins, ginger, onion, garlic and cinnamon.

Place pan over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced, almost all liquid is gone and mixture is glossy and thick, for 50 to 55 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and let chutney cool completely. Transfer chutney to an airtight storage container and refrigerate for at least 8 hours to thicken before serving.

Refrigerate chutney in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Makes 2 1/2 cups.