Pig Row Spicy Christmas Chutney

Where do I begin with chutney? It is one of the easiest and most maligned of all preserves. It isn't up there with jam or marmalade, it has not even got the kudos of a curd. It is the thing you try once and then put in a cupboard and forget. Years later you find it gathering dust behind dried pasta and in a fit of food poisoning fear you bin it, jar and all, shiver as you deposit it in your bin, shake your shoulders and vow never to make it again. Jam is okay, you can eat it straightaway, it's a friend at anytime of the day and invokes memories of summer days, doorstop sandwiches and sticky fingers but chutney is for the dead days of winter, both savoury and sweet, a preserve in no man's land. However, for those of us who tried that first time and found that dusty jar in the back of the cupboard and opened it, and then did the unthinkable and ate it, we know that chutney is one of the safest ways of preserving fruit. Vinegar has a way of keeping things just right compared to the sometimes uncertain sugar.


In this image apple peelings, bowl

Today, I am making our own spiced chutney, around 8lbs of the stuff or eight conforting jars that will carry us through to the next apple harvest. With 80lbs of apples harvested, given away to neighbours and friends, and even the passing tourist we turn to our favourite apple chutney recipe which has been modified over the years to reflect our taste. Like all recipes it involves me sitting down in the kitchen with D supervising. First chop up your 8lb of apples, you could use bramley if you don't grow your own. We prefer a mix of cookers and eaters. The eaters give the final chutney an aromatic scent that fills the house.


In this image sugar, apple, sultanas, spice

The ingredients are as follows, nothing that you can't buy or grow yourself:

Ingredients

450g/16oz onions, chopped. 

1.8kg/4lb apples, cored and chopped.

220g/8oz sultanas, raisins or chopped dates, we also like to vary this sometimes by soaking mixed dried fruit in brandy but this is optional.

30g/1oz ground coriander.

30g/1oz paprika.

30g/1oz mixed spice.

30g/1oz salt.

680g/1lb 8oz granulated sugar.

850ml/1 1/2 pints malt vinegar.

This is a one pot fiesta but if you are peeling your own apples which are not all the same size it is a bit of Herculian undertaking, and no D didn't help, he helped himself to some apple and wondered what I was doing with all the apple peelings and why I had three bowls. I had one bowl for the apple, it will go brown and yes you can add lemon to stop it but this is for chutney not the Tate Gallery. The other two bowls are for the apple peelings and the final bowl for the core and pips. I will tell you why I am separating them all out soon. What I am trying to say is cut your onions, cut half your apples and place all the ingredients in one jam pan (has to be a jam pan to stop burning) and put on a low heat. Whilst this starts to cook finish off the rest of the apples and add, stir in and cook for 1 1/2 hours occasionally stirring to stop it from sticking.


Apples

Don't boil the mix and do not add any water. In the meantime sterilise some jars, you will need around 8 large jars. After the chutney has been cooking for 1 1/2 hours you should be able to draw a wooden spoon across it, like the parting of the Red Sea. You should be able to imagine a little Moses running across the bottom of pan before the sides merge back into one unctuous mix. You will have noticed as you've cooked the chutney that the vinegar smell had faded and the mixed spice has taken over. Have a little taste but remember that this won't be the final taste it needs to mature.


In this image: chutney jars

Now decant into jars with a clean spoon, seal the lid and leave to cool before labelling. Now back to those peelings, they were taken up to our hens, all the apples were cut outside to stop any cross contamination. If you're a meat eater than there are things in your kitchen that could make your chickens very ill, think mad cow for poultry, so make sure any hen food is prepped in a 100% veg friendly zone. I also removed all the pips and core as these too can make hens sick. 


In this image: hens

The hens loved this fruity titbit and it does feel like a complete cycle as the manure the chickens make goes into our compost that feeds our trees that gives us apples which become chutney for Christmas! There I said it! 

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