Apple and Chilli Jelly

It sounds wrong: apple and chilli jelly, but the sweetness of a rotund, juicy, apple jelly spiked with a spine-tingling, hot chilli edge is just, pour moi, the perfect pairing with cheese.

I am currently in the throes of a love affair with Ossau Iraty a French Sheep’s milk cheese that is delicate and nutty and sings high and long when saddled with this particular chilli jelly – which is akin to a sweet chilli jam but far, far more sophisticated.

Where would I be without my trusty jelly-making kit, a pan, a muslin and a wheelbarrow load of local Somerset Apples?

Apple & Chilli Jelly

2kg chopped local organic apples – core, peel and all
1lb of soft brown Demerara sugar
1.2 litres water
6-8 dried red chillies pounded to tiny shreds, include the seeds


Slowly cook the apples in a pan with the water until the fruit is soft and mushy. Arrange your jelly stand and very carefully tip the hot fruit mush into the bag.

Leave to drip, into a container, overnight.

Measure the liquid, for every 500ml use 450g of brown sugar. Pour into pan – add your chilli, more or less to your taste. Bring to the boil, stirring the contents – when the sugar has melted bring to a rolling boil for a good ten minutes.

When the jelly has hit setting point – use the wrinkle test – immediately decant into hot sterilised jars – leave to cool.

Enjoy this beautiful, delicate but piquant jelly with your cheese board – baby.

Tamarind, Date & Apple Chutney

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.

Pear & Plum Chutney

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..