Christmas Fig Chutney

I was very taken, watching HFW and the River Cottage Christmas Fayre programme, with his Christmas Chutney. But when I went looking for it, it was the one recipe that wasn’t up on his website, bah humbug.

I’ve been meaning to try some recipes from my new (second-hand) copy of Jams, Pickles and Chutneys, and there’s one in there for Dried Fruit Chutney.

So from what I remembered from the telly, what I’d got in the cupboard, and using quantities from the book, I took:

8 oz baby dried figs, cut roughly
8 oz dried sweetened cranberries
4 oz pitted prunes
4 oz raisins
soaked together for about 20 mins with the grated rind of 2 oranges and the juice of half an orange

While that’s soaking, chop 12 oz each onions and apples. That was about 3 onions, 1 Bramley and a couple of red eating apples. Add 4 small cloves of crushed garlic. Fry them in a tiny tiny drop of oil, just to get them started, until they’re soft and you can’t smell the raw onion any more.

Tip in the fruit and juice, and add about half a pint of cider vinegar along with the rest of the juice from the 2 oranges. Stir and cook until the fruit is starting to plump up and soften and the vinegar is getting well absorbed.

Add another half pint of cider vinegar, and 2 good tablespoons of balsamic glaze flavoured with orange oil.

Bung in the spices:
a thumb joint sized piece of fresh ginger, chopped small
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground coriander
0.5 tsp ground cloves
pinch paprika
2 tsps ground cardamom
2 tsps ground ginger

Stir all up well, let it come back to simmer and stir in, slowly, 24 oz muscovado sugar.

Simmer slowly until it’s thick and pulpy.

Update: it made a very large and two smaller jars. Dark and fruity, almost chewy in spots. It was ready to eat straight away, but about 6 weeks down the line the ginger is starting to come through more and the flavours are really developing. It’s not dried out as much as I was afraid it would, but it’s not a sopping wet chutney. Just right for cheese sandwiches.

Chutney Weather

This week is damp and chill, especially after the last month of sun. Time to huddle in the kitchen with some overblown opera and make chutneys.

Peach Chutney

I made a lovely one earlier in the year and lost the notes, boo. Peach chutney for me should be like the Sharwoods one used to be, thick and dark and ultra-sweet. But with a bit of a kick. Which means a standard chutney, made with dark sugar and a heavier vinegar, and cooked that little bit longer. So in today’s pot there are:

  • 8 medium size peaches, slightly past their eating best, cut in half and stones removed
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 huge teaspoons garlic puree
  • 2 huge teaspoons ginger puree
  • 1 fresh red chilli, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 oz dark muscovado sugar
  • 200 mls cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt

Cooked down to a thick consistency, peaches cut up a bit with a spoon, with a few spoonfuls of liquid left to stop it drying out in the pot. Yeech, that’s hot. Put up in a sealed jar and leave for a few weeks to really settle in. Chutneys like this are good in cheddar cheese sandwiches, with cold ham salad, or as part of an Indian pickle tray.

Rhubarb / Apple Chutney

I have 2 sticks of rhubarb left to play with, and a couple of baking apples left over from a dinner last week. I’m aiming for a light wet chutney, where the bulk of the fruit has turned to a puree with some tiny onion pieces for texture.

  • 2 sticks rhubarb, cut in half lengthways then into 1″ pieces
  • 2 Bramley cooking apples, cored and cut into pieces a similar size to the rhubarb, not peeled
  • 1 small white onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 tsp each pureed garlic / ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 oz white sugar
  • 200 mls white wine vinegar, split into 150/50 ml portions

Put the bigger amount of vinegar in the pot, add rhubarb, sugar, onion, garlic, ginger, salt. Stir about a bit. and bring to simmer. Add apple pieces, sprinkle with the remaining vinegar (so raw apple doesn’t brown). Put the lid on the pot and leave it for about half an hour. Stir it up briskly, raise the heat, and cook it until it is a thick sauce, and all the big pieces of fruit have turned to mush. It’s like a super-tart apple sauce with threads of greeny-pink rhubarb running through it.

Again, I’m going to pot up in a sealed jar, but I’m tempted to keep it in the fridge in case it doesn’t have enough preservative in it. It’ll be brill cold with roast pork, blue cheese, even a good old fried breakfast with black pudding and thick bacon.

Chandrika’s Garlic Mango Pickle

Following on from the mango wraps, the same article in olive February 2004 included a raw mango pickle which looked, um, lively.

  • 1 medium green unripe mango, washed
  • 1 small head of garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
  • 3 tbsps salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 0.5 tsp hing / asafoetida
  • 3 tbsps black mustard seeds, coarsely ground
  • 1 tbsp fenugreek seeds, coarsely ground
  • 1 tbsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp groundnut oil

Cut the mango into small chunks, leaving the peel on, and discard the stone.

Mix everything together and put in a jar in a cool place for about a week. Will keep in the fridge for about another month.

I wouldn't put this in a jar with a metal lid. I suspect it would develop quite a bit of sauce as it matured, and would be sour and crunchy. Totally unlike the cooked sweet mango chutney you can buy, more like the lime pickle end of things. I've got everything in the house except the mango, am tempted to just pop out for a moment …

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