I asked my wife Siobhan to have a go at documenting her chutney making endeavours with the following results, go Siobhan!The English made chutneys their own after the traders brought back these exotic condiments from India in the 18thCentury. They became a big hit and over the years the recipes have been tweaked for the milder palate. But the essential sweet/sour /spicy flavours are what make great chutney that can accompany a host of dishes from cold meats/cheeses to scrambled eggs or curries.
Marrow & Tomato Chutney. If you have neglected your courgettes and have now discovered proud marrows, one of the best ways to use them up is to make chutney. It is great if you have a glut of tomatoes at the end of the season but is not essential as tinned tomatoes can give a good result too.
First things first, Jars have to be sterilised – I put the jars in the hottest cycle of the dishwasher (with nothing else in it and no detergent) just before I start chopping the vegetables and then keep the door closed so they dry in the heat of the dishwasher. You can also wash them in hot soapy water and then dry on a baking tray in a warm oven, at about 180c/Gas mark 4 for 20mins. Invest in a pair of tongs to remove the jars from the oven as they will be hot. Use non-reactive lids (rubber/plastic on the inside) as the vinegar will corrode metal.
Kilner Jars are good and look nice, the rubber seals must never be used twice. I try and use small jars as once you open the chutneys, they must be refrigerated and can take over the fridge if, like me, you have a variety of preserves on the go at any one time.
Chutney by its nature requires extraordinary amounts of sugar and some vinegar. Don’t try and reduce the sugar as it acts as the preservative and won’t work if the exact proportions aren’t adhered to. Try not to be alarmed by the sugar quantity and calm yourself by remembering it will only be used in small amounts anyway as a condiment. Well that’s the plan. Vinegar acts as a preservative and virtually any vinegar is suitable, providing the acid content is 5% or more. I prefer cider or white wine vinegar as malt can be slightly harsh and needs a bit more time for mellowing.
This year we have officially turned into the house of condiments, with a great summer producing loads to work with, we now have the pick of: cucumber relish, tomato & chilli Jam (big favourite), beetroot & ginger relish, pickled cucumber and tomato & marrow chutney. I have used fresh tomatoes as I have a glut from the polytunnel, but a friend uses tinned plum tomatoes with a good result. Ideally you could use a wide preserving pan as it is quicker to cook so preventing the vegetables from over cooking, I don’t have one so I use a large stock pot which works fine. Copper or aluminium will taint the taste so stick to enamel or stainless steel .
A fair amount of chopping is involved so have the largest board you have to hand.
1.4kg / 3lb Marrow
450g/ 1 Ib ripe peeled tomatoes (score a line with a sharp knife from top to bottom, dunk them in a
bowl of boiling water for no more than 15secs and rub off the skin)
2 onions peeled & roughly chopped
2 or 3 garlic cloves skinned and chopped
2tsp black peppercorns
2tbsp Maldon sea salt
2tsp ground ginger
700g/1&1/2 lb sugar (granulated) – you can use brown which will turn it a darker colour
750ml Cider Vinegar
move the seeds and any coarse fibres. Cut the flesh into 1cm/half inch chunks, peel and roughly chop the tomatoes, onions & garlic. Finely crush the peppercorns and allspice in a pestle & mortar, or grind in a coffee grinder. Put all the ingredients in the pan. Heat gently while the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, and then simmer steadily for about an hour until reduced by about a half.
By this time your whole house will have a strong scent of vinegar, apparently very cleansing if you want to smell of vinegar.
It should be nice and thick but still have a bit of juice .
Cool the chutney slightly before potting into the warm sterilised jars, good to use a stainless steel wide necked funnel to prevent it all running down the sides of the jar. Cover with the non-reactive lids , label with the date and store in a cool place.
Leave the chutney to mature for at least a month so the flavours can mellow. This will keep unopened for at least 6 months. Refrigerate after opening.
Marrow & Tomato Chutney is super with a fry up on Sunday morning, a curry on a Friday night or just lovely on a cheese sandwich. This makes about 3lb / 1.4kg of chutney.
Tomato & Chilli Jam This is such a great little jam, spicy but sweet and can be used with anything. I put a spoon of it into the pan when I’m making gravy to go with roast Lamb.
500g very ripe tomatoes
4 red chillies (leave in the seeds if you like it extra hot)
4 garlic cloves
7cm piece of grated fresh ginger
30ml Thai Fish Sauce (Nam Pla)
300g Golden Caster Sugar
100ml Red Wine Vinegar
Skin the tomatoes , score a line with a sharp knife from top to bottom of the tomato, dunk them in a bowl of boiling water for no more than 15secs and rub off the skin with your thumb. Chop into 1cm chunks.
Put the chilli, fish sauce, garlic & ginger into a food processor or blender to make a paste.
Put all the ingredients into a stainless steel pan; bring slowly to the boil, stirring to stop it sticking.
Gently cook for about 35-40 mins.
When a jam like consistency is reached, spoon into the warm sterilised jars.
Leave to cool, then store in a cool place where it will keep for months, refrigerate after opening.
This made 4 small jars approx. (0.125litre size jars).