I am not a fan of chutney, at least I never have been, but recently I have been converted. That ubiquitous brown pickle that you find on a pub ploughman's has always sprung to mind when chutney has been mentioned, but that could not be further from the real stuff.
For the last two years, I have been making a spiced apple chutney with apples from Mum's garden as a Christmas gift, adding extra chillies because the recipient likes hot. The apples are now ready, so it is time to get out the preserving pan again.
This morning, I went to Mum's and picked the apples, the branches of the trees are bowed under the weight of them. While I was at it, I picked some blackberries to make jam with.
I decided to add cassis to the blackberries, sugar and lemon juice in the pan. I know that cassis is made from blackcurrents, but still I thought it was worth adding a bit to the pan to give it a little bit extra.
As I had a couple of pineapples in the house, I also made a pineapple chutney which I have just sampled with a bit of strong cheddar. I think it is fair to say, it will not last very long. It is a lovely balance of sweet and sour with a hint of cinnamon and clove - delicious.
Jams, chutneys and preserves are incredibly simple to make and are a great way of using up a glut of fruit and vegetables. At a time when money is tight it is also a great way of storing what you grow to brighten the dark days of winter. All you do is pop the ingredients in a preserving pan (other large, open pans will do) and cook until everything has gone to mush and thickened. Pop into jars and it will keep for months.
You can use all sorts of fresh fruit and vegetables, and you don't have to wait until the end of summer to do it. Use what is cheap and in season and you have something lovely to eat later in the year. Chutneys are great with cheese and cold cuts, and what could be better than hot buttered toast and homemade jam?
I used recipes from Nigella Lawson's "How to be a Domestic Goddess".