Create a pantry full of summer
Chutney is a staple around here – a complement to sausages, cheese and biscuits, charcuterie, grilled cheese sandwiches, boiled and scotch eggs, poppadoms and curry. The sheer variety of flavours, ingredients and colours is a great incentive to get creative when contemplating what to do with your next wheelbarrow of fruit and vegetables. From spicy to fruity, chunky or smooth – it’s easy to create a pantry full of summer to enjoy all winter.
What to do with mountains of orchard fruit?
Inspired by the more than 40 varieties of chutney being displayed at last week’s Trout and About festival in Stockbridge, Hampshire, we decided it was time to fire up the chutney caldron. As Chance would have it, I harvested (rescued) hundreds of organic orchard fruits from the groaning limbs of trees resident in my daughter’s urban oasis (Cambridge, UK).
After packing the cornucopia into the car, it was transported to The Shire where it sat for 24 hours attracting a steady stream of early wasps. Highly motivated to clear the burgeoning trays before getting stung, we got cracking on destoning the perfectly ripe plums. Before we knew it, we were well on the way to turning the kitchen into a chilli jam fest.
In the end we really did need a caldron as we had amassed a whopping four kilograms of sliced fruit, a bulb of chopped garlic plus a mountain of onions.
Plum Pepper Chutney (Jam)
In the beginning there were plums, peaches, apples and apricots. Then onion came along with garlic and mustard seed. Soon the spice crew heard there was to be a gathering and ginger, cinnamon, star anise and cumin appeared. The party had started, but it needed a kick. Smoky paprika and chilli flake were called in along with their buddies, the sultanas. The red wine vinegar heated up, and sweet muscovado melted into the scene until the whole place bubbled like a caldron over a low flame. As the evening ticked over and everyone began to chill, the poppadoms appeared. Naturally, they wanted to take a dip.
The spicy bit on the side (of a razor-sharp cheddar)
When the pot finished simmering, we decanted the spiced chutney into an eclectic array of recycled jam and Ball jars. We tasted our first sample of the concoction with a razor-sharp farmhouse cheddar served on bog-standard Jacobs biscuits. Of course we gave it full marks – even as fresh as it was. By Christmas it will be out of this world.
We’ll be trying our hand at a smooth green tomato chutney and bread and butter pickles. Stay tuned.
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