I’m not much of a jam maker but I do LOVE homemade chutney or pickle. They always beat a commercially made version hands down. The sticky thickness and deep flavour have to come from gentle, slow reduction, not the introduction of thickening agents. The plum harvest is in full swing now so I’ll be making something pretty much every Sunday morning with one variety of plum or other. This week, I have a couple of kilos of deep red Czars so I’m making my absolute favourite – red plum, lime and coriander chutney. It’s delicious with gutsy vintage cheddar, roast pork and game pie or a tablespoon stirred into rich venison or pork stew in winter is sublime. It will definitely be gracing my Xmas party table anyway.
This *recipe comes from Thane Prince’s wonderful book Jams & Chutneys, Preserving the harvest – I think it’s the best ever preserving book and well worth adding to your cookery collection. She taught me at The Aldeburgh Cookery School and she’s also the preserving judge on the Great Allotment Challenge TV show – definitely knows her stuff!
You will need…
- 1 cinnamon stick – 15 cm (6″)
- 2 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 2 kg dark red-skinned plums
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 red chillies – chopped, without seeds. I make mine with because I like the slight heat it gives it
- 5cm (2-inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 2 limes – finely grated zest and juice
- 1 lemon – finely grated zest and juice
- 500ml red wine vinegar
- 500g light Muscovado or Demerara sugar
- Finely grind the cinnamon, coriander seeds and black peppercorns together in a spice grinder. I have an electric coffee grinder just for my fresh spice blends- well worth it as pre-ground spices lose their flavour after a while and just taste dusty.
- Put all the ingredients in a large preserving pan. Bring the contents slowly to boil, stir a few times until the sugar dissolves.
- Open the kitchen windows because the vinegar smell will be quite intense for a while, simmer gently for a good couple of hours until the liquid evaporates and the chutney is thick. Stir it frequently towards the end of cooking to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. Thane says this will be ready in an hour but mine took a couple of hours – I prefer to reduce chutney slowly anyway.
- Once it’s ready, turn off the heat and allow it to cool for 10 minutes.
- Pour into hot, sterilised jars, cover with vinegar-proof seals (the vinegar will corrode bare metal) and label. You can sterilise jars in a cool oven or in the dishwasher. I prefer to store it in a variety of jars, some small, some up to 450g sizes.
- Store in a cold, dark place for at least a month before using. It will keep for a year.
*This article first appeared in my monthly column in the WOW24/7 supplement for Johnson Press.
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