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I very much enjoyed settling down to enjoy the fruits of my autumn labours with a wodge of deliciously tangy cheddar and some crunchy grapes.  I used to think the making of jams, chutneys and pickles was horrendously complicated and difficult, until I tried it.  I know it’s unseasonal to be making chutney at this time of year, but the ingredients are still in the shops and for some reason I’m feeling the need for home comforts.  And anyway, this isn’t technically – if we’re going to be really pedantic – a chutney, as it isn’t simmered. 

This recipe is incredibly easy, very amenable to adaptation, and utterly scrumptious.

Note: The colour of your chutney will depend upon what type of sugar you put in – this year I put in 2/3 demerara and 1/3 light brown and it’s darker and sweeter than last year when I used caster sugar.  Do not use a metal bowl or implements for this, stir and store in a plastic, glass or ceramic container.

1lb dates (make sure you get stoned ones, otherwise it’s a complete faff)

1lb sultanas

1lb soft brown sugar

1lb apples, when peeled

1lb onions, when peeled

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon salt

Juice of half a lemon

½ – ¾ pint of brown malt vinegar

A number of cold jars, washed and dried either in the dishwasher, or sterilised with the aid of ten minutes in a hot oven.

Chop dates, chop onion and apple (I chop mine into chunks then use the food processor until it’s manageable but still well textured).

Mix with sultanas, vinegar, sugar, lemon, mustard and salt. Stir well. You don’t want it sloppy but you do want it well coated. You can always add more before bottling if you think it needs it.

Cover and leave, at least, overnight in a cool place.  Taste and adjust for vinegar if you think it needs it. Bottle.  Store in cool dark place for at least 4 weeks before eating.  Once open, keep in fridge. Delicious in sandwiches, with cheese, alongside shepherd’s pie, pork pie, cold cuts, quiche…

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