Aug 17th, 2014
The tomatoes have finally come to an end, and while the plants are dying back, there were quite a lot which were obviously not going to ripen fully, but still were large enough to make good eating. We also had a few courgettes/marrows left over, plus the cooking apples are just starting to be ready.
I decided to make some ‘Donich Chutney’ from all this produce. I took the basic quantities of sugar/vinegar from the ‘Seasonal Chutney’ recipe in the River Cottage Preserves book – but the specific ingredients were based on what we had to hand.
So from the book – 3kg of raw vegetables/fruit to 500g dried fruit, 500g brown sugar, 600ml white wine vinegar.
I used 1.5kg under-ripe tomatoes, 500g marrow, 500g onion, 500g apple (and ok a few plums I had left over from the jam). At this point I realized I had run out of dried fruit and had to risk R’s wrath by using his miniature packets of ‘eating raisins’ for the chutney – 200g of those and 300g assorted mixed and chopped dried fruit (prunes, apricots, sour cherries).
Chop all the fresh fruits and vegetables. According to the book you were supposed to skin the tomatoes but this did not seem to work well with the green ones using my usual ‘immerse in boiling water’ technique – so I removed the skins which came away easily and just left the others. The apples I peeled and cored. Add the dried fruit, sugar and vinegar. Instead of the recommended vinegar I used 300ml of a raspberry vinegar I had bought and wanted to use up – so in order to make sure the chutney had a bit of a kick, I used malt vinegar for the remaining 300ml. This made the mixture quite watery and I was a bit concerned there was too much liquid – but don’t worry – it cooks down very nicely.
I then peeled a small piece of fresh ginger, bruised it with the side of the knife and wrapped it in muslin with 12 cloves and a teaspoon of black peppercorns and added to the mix.
Gently bring the whole mixture to a simmer and allow to cook down slowly, stirring occasionally, until thick and glossy. For me this took about 2.5 hours.
Then jar up and seal once cool. Ideally this takes a month or two to mature – but I tried some last night and it was pretty good even if I say so myself. The only minor panic I had was when at one point I thought I had lost the muslin spice bag – but after delving around with a spoon for five minutes I managed to find and remove it.
One note on jars for preserves. I may be controversial in saying this – but I have made a lot of successful jams and pickles over the years – and all I ever do with the jars is wash them in hot soapy water, rinse them, and then fill them with (nearly) boiling water until I am ready to use them. This seems to do the trick as far as sterilization is concerned without needing any more elaborate techniques.