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Posts Tagged ‘chutney’

I once bought a jar of caramelised onion chutney at a fayre and promised myself that one day I would hunt out a recipe and make some myself.   It is a really useful addition to the store cupboard: delicious with cheese or cold meat, so especially good around Christmas when there are plenty of cold cuts, but also good stirred into gravy to add extra flavour.  If you like hot dogs then you could substitute this chutney for the fried onions and if you like sausage rolls then why not try the recipe on this site for Sausagemeat Plait substituting Caramelised Red (or White if you prefer) Onion Chutney for the Fennel & Apple Chutney.

Finding nothing particularly useable in my recipe books, I turned to the web and discovered several helpful recipes, in particular one from Tesco called Caramelised Onion Chutney, but I consulted other recipes as well.  One of these Red Onion & Balsamic Chutney, a Lesley Waters recipe on the Good Food Channel site, added orange which I wanted to include in my recipe, having made some onion marmalade (a mixture of seville orange and onions) some years ago. The Tesco recipe used a pinch of chill, but I used Piment d’Espelette as an alternative.  The recipe did not specify the type of onion, so I assume that it should be white ones, however as I had plenty I used red onions instead.  The only comment I would make is that I would have preferred the chutney to be pinkish rather than brown, reflecting the rosy colour of the onions.  The darkening came both from the brown sugar, even though I used light brown, the dark balsamic vinegar and the red wine vinegar.  If I did this again I woudl certainly use white wine vinegar and white balsamic vinegar and possibly white granulated sugar as well.   Ideally this recipe should be kept to mature for 6 – 12 months, according to the Tesco recipe.  I made mine at the start of November so by Christmas it will have matured for almost 2 months: not quite long enough I know but I plan to keep one jar by for next Christmas to see if it really does improve with age.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Caramelised Red Onion Chutney
(3 x 500g/1lb jars)

3tbsp olive oil
1·5kg/3lb onions – I used red onions
zest & juice of 1 orange
300g/10oz light muscovado sugar (or white granulated to help preserve colour)
200ml/7fl oz red wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar to help preserve colour)
3tbsp balsamic vinegar (or white to help preserve colour)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1tbsp wholegrain mustard
½tsp salt
large pinch paprika
large pinch crushed chillies or Piment d’Espelette (Espelette pepper)

1.  Peel and thinly slice the onions.  Heat the oil in a large saucepan and using a low heat gently fry them for 10 minutes until they have softened.  They must not brown.

2.  Stir in 3 tbsp sugar.  Turn up the heat and cook the chutney for 3-4 minutes and allow the onions to brown, although if you want to preserve the pink colour of the chutney try not to let them brown very much.  Stir in the rest of the sugar and then add the remaining ingredients.

3.  Simmer the mixture gently for 10-15 minutes.  The liquid should reduce, the mixture thicken and turn a dark caramel colour.  (This instruction comes from the original: using white vinegars and sugar should hopefully preserve the colour a little better although adding the sugar will make it darken a little.)

4.  Wash the jars well and sterilise them.  I usually do this by filling the jars with boiling water and putting the lids in a bowl of boiling water.  I pour away the water just before filling each jar and immediately take the lid from the bowl and screw it on.

5.  Pot while still hot into the pre-prepared sterilised jars. Screw on the lids well and then turn upside down until cool, which helps with the seal, after which they can be labelled.  This can be eaten immediately but also keeps well.

7.  If you can wait that long it is recommended that this chutney is stored for 6 – 12 months before use.

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Regular readers of this site will know by now that we love a good chutney!  My previous posts for Beetroot Chutney and Tomato Relish are two of the most visited and commented on recipes that I have posted – Spiced Damson Chutney has also proved popular (see comment below – thanks Sharon!).  Here, I suspect is another favourite.  Certainly, the half quantity I made  was eagerly received and left me wondering why I had not risked making the full amount.  However, I still have lots of apples to use up – what a bumper harvest (and generous friends) – we have had this year.

I was first alerted to the recipe for Spiced Apple Chutney by Shaheen at Allotment 2 Kitchen.  That was way back last year at the end of November when I did not have enough time (and had also just made a shipping order of different chutneys).  I made a note to have a go at making the original recipe for Spiced Apple Chutney which came from BBC Food  as it looked so good.  The amounts spice used looked rather a lot, especially the paprika, so I used scant quantities, but I think I need not have bothered.  Shaheen used Allspice rather than Mixed Spice but I am not sure why as they are not the same: it may of course be a personal tweak adding a flavour she really liked – not uncommon!  Allspice are berries from the Pimiento.  Mixed Spice is a blend of ground spices especially used in the UK which usually includes Cinnamon (or Cassia), Nutmeg, Cloves and Ginger (occasionally Allspice, Cayenne and/or Coriander as well).  It is similar to the French Quatre épices (literally four spices): pepper, cloves, nutmeg and ginger (sometimes substituting allspice for pepper and cinnamon for ginger), commonly used in meat dishes such as paté and terrines.   Additionally in the Netherlands (Belgium and Germany too) the Speculaas/Speculoos biscuits contain a spice mixture called (in the Netherlands) Speculaaskruiden, which is a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamon and white pepper.  (I keep promising myself I will make some of these biscuits…)  Although this is rather going off on a tangent, there is an interesting post listing Spice mixtures worldwide on Wikipedia.  However, back to the chutney…  I’m thinking of putting in ginger another time in addition to what is already in the mixed spice to enhance that flavour.  The original recipe gave a choice between adding sultanas or raisins (which are similar) and as an alternative, dates.  There was never any contest for me as I would find dates just too much in what is already rather a sweet (though delicious) chutney: sultanas it was!  The only other tweak I made was to use my usual method of adding the sugar later once the other ingredients have reduced a little.  The sugar can be inclined to make the mixture burn before it has fully reduced and I find this helps to prevent this.  Overall I would recomment Spiced Apple Chutney as having a lovely mixture of sweet and spicy.  It is delicious eaten with pungent cheese, ham or pork (but I am sure it would be a good accompaniment for all meats.

Warning: Do not try to make a double batch in one pan.  Reducing the extra liquid will be difficult and leaving it to cook down for a long time could lead to the sugars burning.  I speak from experience!  I apply this rule to all home made jams and chutneys: nothing worse than a bitter burnt flavour lurking in the background.  I find using the widest saucepan I have gives the biggest surface area for the quick evaporation of liquid.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Spiced Apple Chutney
(Makes 4-6 jars)

225g/8oz onions, chopped
900g/2lb apples, cored & chopped
110g/4oz sultanas, raisins or stoned chopped dates
15g/½oz ground coriander
15g/½oz paprika
15g/½oz mixed spice
15g/½oz salt
340g/12oz granulated sugar
425ml/15fl ozs/¾ pint malt vinegar

1.  Put all the ingredients apart from the sugar into a saucepan. Slowly bring to the boil and simmer for 1 -1½ hours, stirring from time to time to stop the chutney sticking to the pan.

2.  Reduce the mixture until it has thickened.  You should be able to draw a channel across the bottom of the pan through the mixture that doesn’t close over too quickly.

3.  Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Continue to cook on a medium/high heat, stirring regularly to avoid burning.

4.  Continue to cook until the chutney is very thick and you can once more draw a channel across the base of the pan that does not immediately fill with liquid.

5.  Meanwhile wash the jars well and sterilise them.  I usually do this by filling the jars with boiling water and putting the lids in a bowl of boiling water.  I pour away the water just before filling each jar and immediately take the lid from the bowl and screw it on.

6.  Pot while still hot into the pre-prepared sterilised jars. Screw on the lids well and then turn upside down until cool, which helps with the seal, after which they can be labelled.  This can be eaten immediately but also keeps well.

7.  Store in a cool, dark cupboard for two to three months before eating.  (Actually I opened one jar immediately to test it and it was fine: it will be interesting to try a more mature version around Christmas.)

8.  This is particularly good eaten with cheese, ham or pork.

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The English Lake District holds many happy childhood memories for me.  Each summer we visited my grandparents who lived at Arnside on Morecambe Bay, in what was then called Westmorland (a county name that is sadly no longer used, being part of Cumbria since 1974).  We had many day trips to the lakes and fells for picnics and walking.  A few weeks ago I happened upon a daytime programme on Channel 4 called Lakes on a Plate, which promised good scenery with food and recipes.  I am currently working my way through what turned out to be a series of about 20 half hour programmes. 

One early Lakes on a Plate programme included a sausage roll recipe, but with a twist: Peter Sidwell, a chef who is also the presenter, added home made Fennel & Apple Chutney.  I was intrigued as this was a chutney I had not heard of before.  Fennel has, of course, a mild aniseed flavour.  The flavour can be found in flavoured alcoholic drinks such as the French Pastis, Greek Ouzo and other similar drinks, although these are usually made from distilled Star Anise, which is an asian spice unrelated to fennel.  In the UK you can buy boiled hard sweets such as aniseed balls and aniseed cough candy or twist where the flavouring comes from oil of Aniseed, a border herb with an umbrella shaped flowerhead but also sometimes from Fennel seeds.  Both seeds can also be used as part of a spice mixture or in cooked dishes and breads.   This recipe uses Fennel, sometimes called Florence Fennel, a white bulb often topped with green feathery fronds, which can be sliced or finely chopped into savoury dishes, or baked and is often used in fish dishes, although not exclusively.  (Find more recipes and mentions of Fennel  on this site.)  As I have mixed feelings about aniseed flavour (disliking the drink, but loving aniseed sweets and fennel in food) I decided to make just a half quantity of the recipe, but I wish now I had made more!  The flavour is delicate and sweet rather than overpowering and it is delicious and unusual spread on toast: a sort of Fennel & Apple Marmalade.  I am still deciding how I might incorporate this chutney in recipes and other than the sausage rolls of the original recipe, what else it could be used in.  I am not a great sausage roll fan, probably because when they appear on buffets they tend to be greasy apologies with fatty pastry and poor quality sausage.  I think, however, that these sausage rolls containing fennel and apple chutney would be in a different league altogether.  I fully intend to use this to make a Sausagemeat Plait in the very near future, just as soon as I have found and bought the good quality sausagement it deserves.  The quantities of apple and onion are a little unclear in the original recipe: I used aproximately the same weight of each as the fennel bulb and I chose to finely chop rather than follow the original instruction to roughly chop them.  I also used my usual method of adding the sugar later, once the vinegar has mostly gone, to lessen the risk of burning the chutney.  This recipe does not make a large quantity, so watch out for when fennel is being sold off on your market at the end of the summer or early autumn and stock up.  I find uncooked fennel bulbs, quartered, freeze reasonably well.

Warning: Do not try to make a double batch in one pan.  Reducing the extra liquid will be difficult and leaving it to cook down for a long time could lead to the sugars burning.  I speak from experience!  I apply this rule to all home made jams and chutneys: nothing worse than a bitter burnt flavour lurking in the background.  I find using the widest saucepan I have gives the biggest surface area for the quick evaporation of liquid.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Fennel & Apple Chutney
(Makes aprox 2 x 1lb jars)

2 fennel bulbs
1 onion (weighing the same as the fennel)
1 apple (weighing the same as the fennel)
100ml white wine vinegar
350g white sugar
1tsp fennel seeds
Salt & pepper

1. Finely chop the fennel and onion.  Place in a medium sized heavy pan with a drizzle of olive oil.  Cook on a medium heat until soft, making sure they do not start to brown. 

2.  Meanwhile peel, core and finely chop the apple.  Add to the pan and continue to cook the mixture for a few more minutes. 

3.  Add the white wine vinegarand fennel seeds. Continue to cook for a further 20 minutes until the liquid has reduced by half and is thick. 

4.  Add the sugar and reduce until thick once more. Season with salt and pepper and leave to cool.

5.  Wash the jars well and sterilise.  I usually do this by filling the jars with boiling water and putting the lids in a bowl of boiling water.  I pour away the water just before filling each jar and immediately take the lid from the bowl and screw it on.  Shake as much water from them as possible before filling.
Alternatively put the jars in an oven set to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4 for 10minutes.  Be careful to put them on a dry surface when removing or they could crack.  Lids can be placed in a small pan of boiling water.  Shake as much water from the lids as possible before filling.

6.  Pot into the prepared jars.  Cool and label.  I find that chutneys are best stored for about four weeks to mature before eating.

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I recently bought some late rhubarb on our market, put it in the fridge and promptly forgot about it!  A week or so later I discovered it in a rather floppy state and not really fit for stewing and eating in the usual way.  In ancient times food that was past its best was disguised with spices so I turned to my recipe books and eventually found this chutney recipe.  The acidity of the rhubarb along with the citrus sourness of the orange means that, in spite of the sugar, this is still rather a tart flavoured chutney and would go well with a rich or oily meat such as duck or pork, or possibly even with an oily fish such as mackerel (I once saw a recipe for mackerel with a rhubarb sauce).   My only comment – one which I actually made out loud as I spooned this chutney into jars – is that this is yet another muddy coloured chutney.  A commercially produced version would have some added food colouring to make it a pretty pinky-peach, I would imagine.  Colour aside, though, this is definitely worth making.

The recipe comes from Home Preserves by Jackie Burrow which has been on my shelf for some years and contains a wealth of good recipes.  I have slightly adapted the original recipe for Spiced Rhubarb & Orange Chutney: I was a little short of rhubarb to make a half quantity so I added some chopped apple and I used grated fresh (but frozen) ginger in place of ginger powder.  I also zested the orange rather than peeling the zest off in larger chunks with a potato peeler (just the zest, but no pith).  I have added these alternatives to the recipe below.  My only other comment would be that the ginger could be slightly increased (although we do like a strong ginger flavour, so be careful).

Warning: Do not try to make a double batch in one pan.  Reducing the extra liquid will be difficult and leaving it to cook down for a long time could lead to the sugars burning.  I speak from experience!  I apply this rule to all home made jams and chutneys: nothing worse than a bitter burnt flavour lurking in the background.  I find using the widest saucepan I have gives the biggest surface area for the quick evaporation of liquid.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Spiced Rhubarb & Orange Chutney
(Makes about 5 x 1lb)

1½kg/3lb rhubarb, chopped
   (replace up to 375g/12ozs rhubarb with peeled & finely chopped apple)
500g/1lb onion, peeled & finely chopped
4 large oranges, zested & squeezed
1tbsp mixed spice
2tbsp finely grated fresh root ginger (slightly defrosted grates easier)
   or
1tbsp ground ginger
1tsp salt
600ml/1pint white wine vinegar
500g/1lb white sugar (or brown)

1.  Place the rhubarb and onion in a large saucepan, plus apple if using, along with the zest and juice, mixed spice, ginger, salt and vinegar.

2.  Bring to the boil on a medium heat, then reduce the heat.  Allow the mixture to slowly reduce, stirring regularly, until it is thick enough to leave a channel (that gradually disappears again) in the bottom of the pan when a spoon is drawn across.

3.  Add the sugar and stir well.  Cook on a medium heat to allow the chutney to reduce as quickly as possible without burning, stirring regularly to stop it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  When the channel can be drawn on the bottom of the pan once more it is ready to pot.

4.  Wash the jars well and sterilise.  I usually do this by filling the jars with boiling water and putting the lids in a bowl of boiling water.  I pour away the water just before filling each jar and immediately take the lid from the bowl and screw it on.

5.  Pot into the prepared jars.  Cool and label.  Ideally, store for about four weeks to mature before eating.

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The original title of this recipe was ‘Bea Turner’s Tomato Relish’.  I never knew Bea Turner, a long gone member of one of our churches, or where she got the original recipe.  However she passed on her recipe to a friend who regularly makes jams and chutneys, who passed it to another friend when she moved away, when it was passed to me.  (Some of the best recipes come like this, I think, as hand-me-downs!)  There are a couple of occasions recently when I have promised this recipe to readers who have left comments: here it is … enjoy!

I have made tomato chutney recipes in the past (I know this is called relish, but what’s the difference – very little actually) however this is by far the best I have come across.  I think it is the addition of the tomato purée which adds a sweet richness to the mix. Rather conveniently, it does not use a large quantity of tomatoes so, though it is worth making several batches when tomatoes are cheap, is also handy for the winter months when tomatoes are more expensive.  The pepper, onion and apples should be chopped according to the size that they will be in the finished relish.  I find it better to chop them finely, so small pieces are visible but do not be tempted to use a food processor unless you want a uniform coloured relish.  You must use clear vinegar though using a brown one would mean dulling down the lovely rich red colouring.  The spices below are as the original recipe, which is a little on the hot side for some (but not all) members of our family.  The second time I made it I halved the chilli, cayenne and mustard, but then it was not spicy enough for some (but not all).  You can’t please everyone …   I now usually make it half way in between.   I have put both these adaptations in brackets after the recipe.  There are so many uses for this wonderful chutney, apart from simply serving it on the side with meats or cheeses: a mildly spiced topping for Welsh RarebitPizza or Pitta Pizzas, as an ingredient in Mexican Style Chicken & Pepper Salad or Cheese & Tomato Tortilla Bake and many more …

Warning: Do not try to make a double batch in one pan.  Reducing the extra liquid will be difficult and leaving it to cook down for a long time could lead to the sugars burning.  I speak from experience!  I apply this rule to all home made jams and chutneys: nothing worse than a bitter burnt flavour lurking in the background.  I find using the widest saucepan I have gives the biggest surface area for the quick evaporation of liquid.

Tomato Relish
(Makes about 5 x 1lb jars)

1lb/500g tomatoes
1 green pepper (I like to use a large one)
1lb/500g onions
1lb/500g apples (cooking or eating)
3 cloves garlic
½pint/10 fl ozs/300ml white malt vinegar
¾lb/375g white sugar
6ozs/170g tomato purée
1 level tbsp salt
1 level tbsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper (medium=¾tsp – mild=½tsp)
½tsp mixed spice
½tbsp mustard powder (medium=scant 1tsp – mild=¼tbsp)
   or
1tbsp mixed English mustard (reduce for medium or mild strength)

1.  Skin the tomatoes by making cross cuts in the skins, pouring over boiling water and after 30 seconds plunging them into cold water.  This helps the skin to come off easier.  Prepare frozen tomatoes in the same way.  (If using very small tomatoes then add an extra one or two depending on size to compensate for the extra skins that are removed.) .

2.  Chop the tomatoes, pepper, onions,  apples and garlic.

3.  Put them all in a large pan with the vinegar and simmer until tender and thick, stirring regularly to check it does not stick and burn. 

4.  When a spoon run across the mixture leaves a channel that does not fill up with liquid. 

5.  Add the sugar and spices and stir well.

6.  Boil for 3 minutes.

7.  Wash the jars well and sterilise.  I usually do this by filling the jars with boiling water and putting the lids in a bowl of boiling water.  I pour away the water just before filling each jar and immediately take the lid from the bowl and screw it on.

8.  Pot while still hot into pre-prepared sterilised jars.  Cool and label.  This can be eaten immediately but also keeps well.

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I suspect this is called Christmas Chutney because of its festive red and green colours and it is a perfect complement for the cold cuts and cheese at tea-time on Christmas Day and throughout the festive season.  It is very spicy so if you want a less hot version then halve or even quarter the cayenne pepper.  It would also benefit from the addition of some raisins or sultanas, a seasonal ingredient and often added to chutney: perhaps in place of one of the red peppers, say 125g/4ozs.

The recipe came from our friend Shirley as an extra when I asked for some of her chutney and relish recipes.  The book she lent me contained a clipping for this Christmas Chutney taken from Candis magazine, November 2004 issue.  She hadn’t got round to making it, so I gave her a jar when I returned the book.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Christmas Chutney
(makes about 2.5kg/6lb)

900g/2lb tomatoes
1 large aubergine, 1 green pepper, 3 red peppers – about 900g/2lb total)
700g/1lb 9ozs onions, peeled & fairly finely chopped
4 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
350g/12ozs granulated sugar
300ml/½pint white wine vinegar or distilled malt vinegar
1tbsp salt
1tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
1tbsp paprika
2tsp cayenne pepper

1.  Peel the tomatoes by making a cut in each, plunging them in a bowl of hot water for about 30 seconds and then draining and covering with cold water.  The skins should slip off easily.

2.  Chop the tomatoes, aubergine, peppers, onions and garlic.  Place these into a large heavy based pan and bring to the boil.  Cover, turn down the heat and simmer for 1hour, stirring until the vegetables are tender.

3.  Add the vinegar, sugar, salt, coriander, paprika and cayenne.  Bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.   Boil for about 30 minutes or until the chutney has a chunky consistency and the watery liquid has evaporated.  It is important that the chutney is stirred occasionally to make sure that the mixture does not stick, especially towards the end of the cooking time when it could burn.

4.  Wash the jars well and sterilise.  I usually do this by filling the jars with boiling water and putting the lids in a bowl of boiling water.  I pour away the water just before filling each jar and immediately take the lid from the bowl and screw it on.

5.  Pot the chutney into the prepared jars sealing while still hot.  Cool and label.

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We used to buy a lovely beetroot chutney but sadly it was discontinued by Sainsbury’s supermarket.  This home made version, however, is even better: both sweet and spicy.  Beetroot is readily available in our local market at the moment so I made a batch to take us well into the winter.  It has to mature until the start of December, but I will probably have to hide it otherwise I am not sure how long it will last.  It is lovely with cheese or cold meats, both in a sandwich or served on the side.

This is yet another recipe from my favourite little book, A Pocket Book on Pickles & Preserves: techniques, hints & recipes by Olive Odell.  I have cut the amount of vinegar slightly as it took a long time to reduce.  If the chutney is reduced for too long the sugars start to caramelise and you risk the chutney having a burnt flavour. 

Warning: Do not try to make a double batch in one pan.  Reducing the extra liquid will be difficult and leaving it to cook down for a long time could lead to the sugars burning.  I speak from experience!  I apply this rule to all home made jams and chutneys: nothing worse than a bitter burnt flavour lurking in the background.  I find using the widest saucepan I have gives the biggest surface area for the quick evaporation of liquid.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Beetroot Chutney
(Makes 5 x 1lb jars)

1.35kg/3lb beetroot
500g/1lb onions, peeled & chopped
600ml/1pt malt vinegar (own brand supermarket brown or clear)
750g/1½lb apples, peeled, cored & chopped
225g/8ozs sultanas or raisins
3tbsp ground ginger
1tsp salt
1kg/2lb sugar

1.  Wash the beetroot, cover with water and cook, unpeeled until just tender (45-60minutes).  Drain, cool, peel and cut into cubes (or mash if you prefer for a smoother textured chutney).

2.  Place onions in a pan with 150ml/¼pt of the vinegar and cook until soft.  Add apples, sultanas/raisins and continue cooking until the apple is soft.  Add the cooked beetroot, ginger, salt and the remaining vinegar. 

3.  Simmer gently until thick and you can draw a channel through the chutney.  Stir in the sugar, dissolve and continue cooking until the mixture thickens again.

4.  Wash the jars well and sterilise.  I usually do this by filling the jars with boiling water and putting the lids in a bowl of boiling water.  I pour away the water just before filling each jar and immediately take the lid from the bowl and screw it on.

5.  Pot into the prepared jars.  Cool and label.  Store for four weeks to mature before eating.

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This red pepper chutney is a sweet and sour relish which can served at dinner with sausages or home-made burgers, or at lunch time with cheese or cold meat and crusty bread.  It can be made at any time of year as the ingredients are easy to find, although it is good idea to make a quantity in the Autumn when there are plenty of apples available.

The recipe comes from a great little book I bought many years ago called A Pocket Book on Pickles & Preserves: techniques, hints & recipes by Olive Odell, which I always turn to first when hunting for a pickle or preserve recipe.

100_8175 Red Pepper Chutney

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Red Pepper Chutney
(Makes 2-3 x 1lb jars)

4 red peppers, seeded and finely chopped
750g/1½lb apples, peeled, cored & sliced
225g/8ozs onions, peeled and finely chopped
300ml/½pt spiced vinegar
100g/4ozs sugar
1 clove garlic, optional

1.   Pour boiling water over the peppers, leave for 1 minute and then drain.

2.   Place drained peppers in a pan with the apples, onions and garlic and cook gently until tender.

3.  Stir in the vinegar and sugar and continue to cook until thick, stirring occasionally.

4.  Wash the jars well and sterilise.  I usually do this by filling the jars with boiling water and putting the lids in a bowl of boiling water.  I pour away the water just before filling each jar and immediately take the lid from the bowl and screw it on.  Pot the mixture into the warm jars and seal.

5.  Store for 4-6 weeks before serving.

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Out for the day in the middle of rural Oxfordshire, we pulled off the road to eat our sandwich lunch.  I spotted a tree in the hedgerow nearby with, sadly, just a few damsons left very high up but nevertheless went to investigate.  I was sure someone had beaten us to it, but when I got there I found the ground below the tree thick with fallen damsons.  We filled our sandwich container and a few other bags and boxes we had to hand with the ripe and juicy fruit.  What on earth to do with such a large harvest, I wondered.  Crumbles, of course.  Jam possibly? 

Once at home I did some searching and came across this delicious chutney in Delia’s How to Cook: Book 3 (Pub: BBC) – Delia Smith comes up trumps yet again!  (The recipe can also be found on Delia Smith’s website.) I thought I would try just a half quantity the first time, but I would not hesitate with making the full amount next time. … and there will be a ‘next time’.  (Actually I have put some Damsons in the freezer so if needed I could make some more this year.) My only variation to the original recipe was to add the sugars right at the end of the cooking time, something I do regularly.  This allows more of the vinegar to boil away, meaning the sugar is less likely to over caramelise and give the finished chutney a burnt taste.  It also means that the finished chutney retains a better and lighter colour.  My half quantity made nearly 3 x 1lb jars, so the full quantity given below would make about 6 x 1lb jars.  This spicy, plummy chutney is delicious served with cheese and cold meats.  We have made a note of the location of ‘Plum Corner’ (as we have named our picnic spot) and plan to go back there another year!  

100_7981  Spiced Damson Chutney

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Spiced Damson Chutney
(makes about 6 x 1lb jars)

1.35kg/3lb damsons
2 heaped tsp ground ginger
2 small cinnamon sticks
25g/1oz allspice berries
1 dessertspoon cloves
1.2litres/2 pints malt vinegar
450g/1lb cooking apples, unpeeled
3 large onions, peeled
3 cloves garlic
45og/1lb seedless raisins
450g/1lb dark soft brown sugar
450g/1lb demerara sugar
2tbsp sea salt

1.  The stones need to be removed from the fruit.  There are two ways of doing this. Either use a knife to remove each one before cooking, or
having counted the number of damsons you use, stew the fruit gently with 225g/½pt of the vinegar for about 20minutes and then remove the stones from the pan with a fork, making sure you have accounted for them all.

2.  Place the stoned damsons, whole or pre-stewed, in a large preserving pan or heavy based saucepan.  Leaving the apples unpeeled, remove their cores, finely chop them and add to the pan.  Peel and finely chop the onions and add to the pan.  Crush the garlic cloves thoroughly and add to the pan.  Add the ginger, raisins and vinegar – or remaining vinegar if  you have already part stewed the damsons.

3.  Tie the cinnamon sticks, allspice berries and cloves in a piece of muslin – I knot them into a length of leg and foot cut from a clean old pair of tights.  Tie with some string onto the handle of the pan and suspend the package in the chutney mixture.  

4.  Bring the mixture in the pan to the boil and lower the heat.  Simmer very gently for 2-3 hours.  Stir occasionally, particularly towards the end of the cooking time when the chutney is more likely to stick. 

5.  When almost all the vinegar has disappeared, stir in the sugars and make sure they are well dissolved.  Continue to cook and when the chutney has thickened to a soft consistency and where you can draw a channel in the mixture so it leaves an imprint for a few seconds which does not fill with vinegar.

6.   Wash the jars well and sterilise.  I usually do this by filling the jars with boiling water and putting the lids in a bowl of boiling water.  I pour away the water just before filling each jar and immediately take the lid from the bowl and screw  it on.

7.  Cool, label with the contents and date of making.  Keep in a cool cupboard for 2 and preferably 3 months before eating so the flavours can develop.

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