I was going to post a recipe up this morning but there was a big storm in the middle of the night and we woke up this morning to a power cut (and this lovely view). Usually we love powercuts in our household it's a time for going back to basics, getting out the candles and imagining this is how our forefathers lived especially when you live in a house that was built in the late 1700's. But this morning we all had a ton of things we wanted to with electricity - Rohan wanted to use the drill to start on a Christmas present for Tom, Raj had just discovered Tom's old Hornby trainset and wanted to get that going and I needed to cook chocolate tart because we had friends coming round for lunch.
Well, the power came back on at 12.30 - minutes before our friends turned up. Luckily we have an oil fired Aga so we could cook the main course (Lancashire hotpot) but if we'd had electric for cooking we'd have been stuffed (there's no gas at this end of the village). The chocolate tart involved whisking double cream and egg whites (seperately) and although one of the children pointed out that Laura Ingalls Wilder had beaten about 20 eggs by hand for her wedding cake I was not into going back to basics so much! So I called the friends and they came over with a rather delicious apple and blackberry crumble the topping of which was more like flapjack. I now have an unbaked tart case in the fridge and pints of double cream and chocolate too - it seems a bit decadent to make it just for us. I'll have to invite someone round to lunch I think. Incidentally we seem to get powercuts a lot over here, the longest of which was about three years ago and lasted from mid afternoon to lunchtime the next day. I like them when they happen in the evening and we all sit around the table with candles, chatting or singing and then everyone has to go to bed by candlelight. Rohan asked me last year if we could pretend we had a powercut sometimes because he enjoyed them so much.
Anyway, onto the chutney. I would advise that you make sure you have no other cooking to do when you undertake this recipe. Luckily, I had made soup the night before (carrot and stem ginger) and everyone went out to a party mid afternoon and ate early supper there. I think my Aga must have been turned down because the chutney took five hours to cook down so give yourself 3 - 5 hours after all the chopping is done.
- 4 lbs apples
- 2 lbs firm pears
- 3 lb red tomatoes, blanched and peeled
- 4 lb soft brown sugar
- 8 oz sultanas
- 8 oz raisins
- 2 pints white vinegar
- 1 tsp ground mace
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 2 tblsp salt
- 1 tsp ground ginger
The most important thing to do is to chop the apples, pears and tomatoes into very small pieces because they don't disintegrate and stay as they are in the chutney. So you don't want huge chunks.
After that add all the other ingredients to the pan and place on the cooker. Stir periodically until the sugar has dissolved and then boil the whole thing until the liquid is reduced.
You can see from the pics how much it reduces by and how the colour changes (as ever click on them to get a bigger view). Now the tricky bit - how to know when it's done. Ofcourse I turned to Bulletin 21 immediately but horror of horrors it didn't tell me. Nor did bloomin google and I couldn't remember. However, Delia saved the day and told me to make a channel through the top of the chutney and when the channel didn't immediately fill up with liquid it was done. Ofcourse, I captured this moment on camera:
Ta da. Then it was off the Aga and quickly into the jars. I managed to fill about 9 jars and now I'm going to put it in the understairs cupboard until Christmas. I think it needs at least three months and I've kept some for two years. This is a fruity chutney as you can see from the ingredients and is delicious in sandwiches and with cheese. My children love it and it's well worth the effort - and there's some to spare for christmas presents too. So give it a go and use up some of that glut of apples you have.