This week I'm making chutney and I'm using one of my "go-to" preserving books, and that's Preserves by Pam Corbin. It's one of the River Cottage Handbooks, and actually the only one of these I own. Pam I softened referred to by Hugh F-W as Pam-the-Jam and with a recommendation like that, who am I to argue? I've chosen what is basically a "glutney" recipe where you can use what you've got. In the book there's a basic recipe and four variations. I have made the basic chutney recipe before and have also made the Apricot & Date variant so was hesitant to include this in this #52Cookbooks series, but I decided to as I've not made this type before, and actually it's a variant on a variant if you see what I mean. The book suggests a Pumpkin and Quince chutney, however I really needed to use one of my marrow's (from my dad's garden) before it turned to mush, so adapted the variant.
Pam introduces the recipe by saying to use what you have and that as long as you keep the quantities roughly in the same proportions, all will be well...
I'd seen quinces in our local green grocers and they'd reminded me of the recipe, so with quinces purchased, the marrow needing to be used I was set. I'd forgotten though that the recipe makes a vast amount of chutney and so needs a very large pan, which I no longer have! We changed to an induction hob when we updated our kitchen last year and so many of our saucepans needed replacing, and really in the scheme of things a mammoth chutney-sized pan wasn't up there on the list of priorities!
So I did the sensible thing and halved the recipe. Even so, there was a lot of peeling, chopping and dicing to do: three-quarters of a marrow, two quinces, three red onions and several of those windfall apples (from my dad's neighbour's garden!). All of this plus raisins, soft brown sugar, a pinch of salt, some dried chilli flakes and cider vinegar went into my largest saucepan.
The pumpkin and quince variant called for some grated horseradish, which I didn't have - only the creamed sort and I didn't think that would go at all. So looking around for a suitable substitute I found some ginger. I added some grated root ginger and some finely chopped stem ginger - hopefully that will work out ok!
Then I read about adding a spice bag so scrabbled around to find my muslin. There's cloves, black peppercorns and a small cinnamon stick in this one. Usually I'd tie this into a parcel with string and tie the string onto the saucepan handle so I'd always know where it'd got to, but without any string and not wanting to use the lovely new twine I'd bought for crafting I tied this "knotted hankerchief" style and threw it in the pot!
Making chutney is quite easy once all the preparation is done as you give it a good stir then bring it to the boil slowly, giving it a stir every now and then. It takes a while, but there's a lot in the saucepan. Then you leave it simmering uncovered for at least a couple of hours, checking it regularly with a stir to make sure it doesn't burn.
It's ready when it is thick and glossy and rich in colour but with the chunks of fruit and veg still discernible. The photo below isn't the best - but it's the only one I have - but you can see the change from when I started cooking.
So onto bottling. This needs to be done while the chutney is still warm and you'll need to sterilise the jars you're using. As you can see I reuse jars I've collected throughout the year, but I'll only reuse them once - after that I recycle them. I sterilise my jars in the oven after first rinsing them in hot water. I keep meaning to try putting them through a dishwasher cycle but either never get the timings right, forget about it until I need the jars or don't have enough room in the dishwasher!
Once you've got your chutney in the jars, push it down with the back of a spoon to push out any air pockets and then pop on the lid tightly and label. Pam says to store it in a cool, dark place and leave for a couple of months to mature before using and to use within two years.
Halving the recipe made six jars of varying sizes - I told you it was a monster recipe - and this is now stored with previous year's chutneys for eating and perhaps the odd Christmas present or two, with a bit of prettifying!
- I love to make chutney and I prefer my own chutney to any shop bought Branston-style pickle. Infact I no longer buy that kind of pickle.
- There's a lot of chopping involved and I always forget how much, but I'll make more chutney. Maybe one day I'll get around to making a pumpkin chutney, or trying the other two variations of gingered rhubarb and fig or plum and pear.
- I don't know how the ginger for horseradish swap went for sure, but it tasted ok when it was hot! And I think it was a relatively sensible and like-for-like swap.
- What's not to like about chutney?!