Plum & Apple Chutney

There is a certain amount of angst that accompanies the decision for the topic of a first post. Should it be a general introductory statement or should I just jump in with that WOW factor and start blathering?

I’d like to think I could be more imainative than producing a bland statement. On the other hand, it behooves me to be a tad bit more organized than just simply filling in the space. So, I’ll begin as intend to go on, with a seasonal and quintessential British recipe that has become part of my repertoire.

Chutney is a spicy condiment that many households in Britain are stirring up this time of year. Though I have canned and pickled with the best of them while living in the U.S.A, chutney wasn’t something I felt compelled to make. It is a standard fare for the cupboard here.

Chutneys are usually associated with Indian food: the ubiquitous mango chutney. But there are many other varieties of chutney made with a creative combination of fruits, vegetables, onions, spices, vinegars and sugars. What else would you serve with you ploughman’s lunch to enhance that sharp slab of cheddar cheese, use as an accompaniment with cold meat or poultry, or slather on your bread for a lovely cheese and chutney sandwich?

My favorite is a plum and apple chutney – both fruits in season at the moment. Luckily I have a friend with an over abundant plum tree in her garden which makes it even more special. The recipe was originally given to me by the wife of one of my husband’s colleagues which I have modified over the years.

Plum & Apple Chutney

  • 3 lbs. plums
  • 2 lbs. tart variety apples
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3-1/2 cups malt vinegar*
  • 3 cups sugar

Prepare the fruit by peeling and coring apples and stoning plums. Chop into small pieces and put in a large non-reactive heavy. bottom pot. Skin and finely chop onions and add to the fruit in the pot. Sprinkle on the spices and salt, then pour in. the vinegar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to let the mixture simmer for several hours, stirring occasionally.

When the fruit has turned to a pulp and the mixture is beginning to thicken, add the sugar. Continue cooking until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is very thick, stirring more frequently to prevent the chutney from burning to the bottom of the pot. I sometimes use a heat diffuser between the pot and the source of heat.

Take off the burner and ladle into cleaned, warmed half pint canning jars. Put on lids and process in a steam bath for approximately 10 minutes to create a vacuum seal.

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* Malt vinegar is the standard vinegar used in Britain, not Apple Cider vinegar. Please do not use any other type of vinegar for this recipe or it will drastically change the flavor.

While cooking, the astringent vinegar fumes pervade the house – not entirely unpleasant, but you might want to keep the extractor fan going or open a window. The resulting deep dark brown paste is worth the effort. Do not be tempted to sample it straight away, but let it sit for at least a month. The flavor improves and mellows over time.

When the jars cool, hunt for copyright free labels on the internet, doctor them in Photoshop with the contents and date clearly marked. Stick these on the jars and store them in a cool dry place.

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