Sunday, 20 December 2009

Apple Chutney

I love chutney. I love it most with fried breakfasts, but also on a good cheese sandwich, or with some nice ham and a salad. I've loved it since I can remember, though I rarely eat it nowadays.

The chutney I ate through my childhood was always homemade - normally green tomato or plum, the former a lighter, spicy relish; the latter dark and thick and tartly divine.

I love making chutney. Yes, it makes your house temporarily smell as though you have doused everything in vinegar, but you need no more technical skills than chopping and lighting the hob, and you get a satisfying sense of homeliness and country craft - preserving the overflow of fruits of the season (even if those same fruit you just picked up at the supermarket on your busy city street).

This apple chutney recipe I used, comes from one of my favourite books, The Country Kitchen by Jocasta Innes , which a good friend brought for me from a second hand shop a few years back. I read it in bed, enjoying disconnecting from my London life by reading about how to make cheese, or cure meats, or make wine from hedgerow fruits. It's nostalgic and old-fashioned and comforting.
The instructions are as easy as this:
First, assemble your ingredients. I made a relatively small batch and used:
3 medium onions, diced
1 knob of fresh ginger, finely choppedd
1 tbsp salt
2 long red chillis, finely chopped
1 tbsp brown mustard seed, toasted and bashed
200 g dark brown sugar
7 medium Bramley apples, cored and roughly chopped, but not skinned
200 g sultanas
400ml malt vinegar
Then, lump all your ingredients together in a big pot, bring to a boil and then simmer until dark brown and thick, stirring occasionally. This takes a while, so you can read or watch TV or whatever, safe in the knowledge that you are all the time being quite productive.
Wash your jars, and put upside down on an oven shelf in a very low oven to dry and heat for about an hour before potting. Cut squares of greaseproof paper to go between jar and lid (if you don't have proper pickling/chutney jars the vinegar will erode most ordinary metal lids. I just used a collection of old jars we keep in the cupboard for this kind of reason.
When it's ready, pot in to the jars hot from the oven and cover.
I'm thinking a little homemade chutney could come in handy in the café if I wanted to do a little cheese platter...

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