Three years ago, I discovered chutney making. Being three months pregnant, I didn’t yet have an unruly toddler to negotiate, plus I wasn’t working 70 hour weeks back then. And, clearly, I couldn’t drink. So I suppose I must have been rather bored because it was around that time that I decided to make a load of chutney and give it as presents for everyone that Christmas. I blame Kirstie Allsopp.
Despite now having much more on my plate, the chutney has become a fixture of the run-up to the festive season. There’s something really satisfying about making up a big batch of gooey, sticky, spicy chutney and squirreling it away into jars, ready to be decorated and given as a thrifty, homemade gift. They always seem to go down well (to my face anyway – I have no idea if they’re immediately put in the bin) so I continue to do it.
This year I’ve made two different types of chutney, but as I’m no Nigella I thought I’d share just the one with you today. This is my first (and probably my last) ever recipe post, so be gentle with me.
What you’ll need for Sweet and Hot Dried Fruit Chutney:
1 1/2 cups of dried apricots
1 1/2 cups of dried dates (pitted)
1 1/2 cups of dried figs
1 cup of raisins
1/2 cup of dried cranberries
1/2 cup of cranberry juice
1 1/2 cups of cider vinegar
1 cup dememerara (raw) sugar
finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp of mixed spice
1 tsp of ground coriander
1 tsp of cayenne pepper
1 tsp of salt
What do to with it all:
1) Roughly chop the dried apricots, dates and figs and put all the fruit in a preserving pan (or really large saucepan). Pour over the cranberry juice, cover and leave to soak until all the fruit has absorbed the juice. This should take a couple of hours.
2) Add the cider vinegar to the pan along with the sugar. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has all dissolved.
3) Bring the gloopy mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for around half an hour. The fruit should soften and squidge together, becoming fairly thick and sticky. Stir every now and again to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pan.
4) Stir in the lemon rind and juice, mixed spice, cayenne pepper, coriander and salt. Simmer for another 15 minutes, stirring pretty much continuously. The chutney should be thick with no excess liquid.
5) Spoon the chutney into warmed, sterilised jars, cover and seal. Allow to mature for around a month before opening and use within one year.
It makes the perfect accompaniment to cold leftover meats from Christmas and is pretty delicious with cheese too.
Ever since I started making chutney, I’ve become a jar hoarder. The (self-proclaimed) Northern Love Machine is forever moaning about “my bloody jars clogging up the bloody shed”, only ceasing to whinge at this time of year when the jars come into their own.
I decorated the jars of chutney with labels made from old Christmas cards and scraps of brown envelope languishing at the bottom of a drawer. I used PVA glue mixed with water to glue strips of red and green tissue paper to the jars, so that when they’re empty they can be used as festive candle holders. The light from the candles will shine through the jars to make all sorts of pretty colours. That’s the plan anyway. It’s like two presents in one. I hope.
I’m linking this post to a recent discovery and addition to my blog reading list – Lulastic and the Hippyshake. Check out the brilliant Recycled Christmas link up for more great ideas for thrifty and beautiful festive creations. And I’m linking to Festive Friday over at Thinly Spread.