I am a slut for chutney.
That mouth-watering, dense, dark brooding heap of glistening fruit and vegetables, sweetness, spice, and vinegar is a heavenly and addictive mash up – that is a cinch to create and will perform with just about anything you can throw at it.
My batch this year was meant to be a Damson and Apple affair brewed with dark brown muscavado, malt vinegar and lashings of onion seeds – an addictive little darling of a seed that seduces and inspires your taste-buds.
But damsons, where in hell were the damsons? Lost to that rain slashed summer we inherited this year.
Call outs to friends and family revealed a real shortage of Autumnal bounty – which for us chutney sluts is a serious kick in the teeth.
Fortunately, for me, I am great friends with a superior grocer and whilst perusing his wares; picked up a bag of dark Spanish plums, some English cookers and Russet Pears, a couple of French quinces, a bag of juicy fat sultanas and a pile of piquant shallots. At home I pulled out two bags of dark, dark brown sugar, two bottles of English malt vinegar, an entire pot of onion seeds, a large slab of spine-tingling tamarind, a handful of dates, mustard seeds, freshly grated garlic, allspice, cumin seeds, cinnamon, ginger – I pretty much pulled out a host of fine spices and threw them all into my jam pan, alongside the fruit and onions.
The easiest and most sensible way to deal with your fruit and shallots is to de-core the fruit – peel the shallots then give them to your whizzing machine, also known as a food processor, to destroy into an evenly, whizzed fine pile.
Put everything in the pan and bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.
Your entire kitchen and household will smell of vinegar and spice – but trust me its worth it.
After a good few hours simmering gently run your wooden spoon through the middle of the chutney – if it leaves a trail that does not immediatly fill with vinegar – but sits gently for a second or two – your chutney is ready to be decanted into warm sterilised jars.
The simplest way to sterilse jam jars is to wash them well in hot soapy water – then let them dry out slowly in a low oven – leaving them in there until you need to use each one.
Whack the lid on as fast as you can after filling.
The best chutney is well matured, mellow and ready for action. At least three months in a cool dark place is preferable.
However, less than one day later we have demolished an entire jar – this stuff is so good. I have been eating it by the spoonful whilst writing this up, is that wrong?
Or perhaps, it just proves my high accolade as the Slutney Chutney Chick.
Apple, Plum, Pear, Quince & Tamarind Chutney
4lb’s of fruit – whizzed up in a processor – skin left on but cores removed.
6-8 Shallots of 3-4 large onions peeled and whizzed up.
1.2 litres of malt vinegar
2lb’s of dark brown sugar, muscavado or similar
200g slab of seedless tamarind
1lb of raisins and dates (chop up the dates or whizz-up with shallots)
3/4 cloves of grated fresh garlic
Ground ginger 2 tspn
Ground cinnamon 2 tspn
Ground allspice 2 tspn
A good handful of mustard seeds
A good sprinkling of cumin seeds
An entire pot of onion seeds
Place everything into the jam pan and bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer gently for 2-3 hours, stirring from time-to-time until the chutney is dark, thickened and chutney-ish and the vinegar has all but disappeared.
While warm fill your warmed jars and seal immediatly with a vinegar-proof lid.
Leave to mellow and mature for at least three months, ahem.