The thing with chutney is you never know truly how good your batch is until several months after you have made it. Maturing is the name of the game in chutney-making. And the more mature the better the taste, so patience is indeed a virtue.
With a glut of Pears on the trees – I made it my mission last month to not allow them to rot and got the old man up the tree and picking away. We had several basketfuls, enough for about ten pots of good rich chutney perfect with cheese, cold meats, in sandwiches and as presents for Christmas.
The other thing you need for chutney, alongside patience, is time. Chopping up many many pounds of onions, pears, dates, apples and plums, into small uniform pieces is seriously time-consuming and often exceptionally dull. But well worth it when you line up your jars of home-made pear chutney and see your stellar effort.
The recipe I followed was a basic one to which you add whatever ingredient you wish. Mine included: 1.5kg pears, 500g plums, 500g apples, 500g mix of onions and shallots, 250g stoned prunes – to this mix I added 500g soft brown sugar, 650ml of organic cider vinegar, a pinch of salt and a good amount of chilli-flakes. My spice bag held plenty of bruised fresh ginger, peppercorns, mustard seeds and coriander seeds.
After several hours (3-4hrs) cooking very gently my pear chutney was thick, glossy and ready to pot. The chutney is cooked when you draw your spoon through it and if the channel does not fill with vinegar then it is ready.
An initial taste test proved that the chutney had a definite spicy depth to the mellow sweetness of the pears and plums. It is currently being stored in boxes under the stairs waiting for its debut as Christmas presents in December when I shall finally allow myself the chance to taste it…watch this space.
Someone small kept munching all my pears..