Saturday, 28 August 2010


I made some chutney this week - the first I've ever made. I wasn't brought up with chutney - the nearest we came to it was Branston pickle. But I remember every year at the school Harvest Festival children bringing in jars of horrible green muck and thinking I would never in a million years eat such a thing. What a surprise it was, then, to find that my chutney was absolutely delicious!

The recipe is as follows, and is taken from Marguerite Patten's Jams, Preserves and Chutneys Handbook in the Basic Basics series (ISBN 1902304721):

Autumn Chutney

1lb each of cooking apples and marrows, peeled and chopped
1.5 lbs onions, peeled and finely chopped
1lb tomatoes, skinned and chopped (I tried green, but they were impossible to skin, so I ended up using red)
1.25 pints vinegar (brown or white)
2 teasps pickling spices, tied in muslin (I used about four tablespoons!)
2 garlic cloves, put whole in the muslin with the spices (I only used one)
1lb sugar (I used demerara, but Marguerite Patten suggests dark brown)
1lb raisins

Prepare the raw fruit and veg. Put the chopped onions into the preserving pan with half the vinegar and the spices and garlic tied in muslin. Bring to the boil and simmer 15 mins. Add the rest of the raw fruit and veg and the remainder of the vinegar and cook gently until the fruits are soft. Add the sugar and stir over a low heat until dissolved. Add the raisins. Cook steadily until the chutney has the consistency of thick jam. Remove the muslin bag, and spoon the chutney while hot into hot, sterilized jars. Seal down.

Marguerite Patten's recipe calls for a pound each of plums and pears, plus half a pound of blackberries. I went to Shrivenham Fete today and met someone who was selling Autumn Chutney made to this recipe, with the plums but without the blackberries. If anything, it tasted even better than mine, and it had a better colour (pinkish, as opposed to brown).

I could eat a whole jar of this chutney in a few days, but because I'm still on a diet, I have to ration myself to half a teaspoon a day. I think you appreciate the taste even more when you're only allowed a tiny bit. My strawberry and blackcurrant jams are a case in point. I don't know what amount I will allow myself when I have finally reached my target weight - but that's another subject. Apart from the fact that I am eating so many vegetables now that there is no way I am still losing weight like I did in the summer, when there was nothing to do but dig and sweat.

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