Cottage Apple Chutney

 Ingredients

1.5 k of cooking apples

500g of onions

200g sultanas (green or golden)

2 un-waxed lemons

500ml of cider vinegar

400g of Demerara sugar

1 ½ tablespoons of Cottage spices

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Spice mix

1 tsp ground Allspice

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

pinch of ground cloves (optional)

½  tablespoon mustard seed

¼  teaspoon sea salt (optional)

(1 teaspoon ground ginger if not using fresh ginger)

 

Wash, peel and core the apples and finely chop (quarter to half an inch square)

Peel and very finely chop the onions.  Thinly slice the lemon and remove the seeds.  Cut the slices into smallish pieces. Try to retain as much of the lemon juice from the chopped lemons as possible.

Add the spices, then the chopped onion, apple, sultanas and lemon to a large heavy based pan.

Add the vinegar and bring slowly to the boil.  Turn down and gently simmer for 10-15 minutes to soften the onion and apple and allow the sultanas to plump up.  Cook longer if there is a lot of liquid.

Add the sugar and stir until all the sugar has dissolved before bringing back to the boil.

Turn down and simmer very gently for at least 90 minutes cooking from this stage to develop flavours.   Stir every now and then to ensure it is not sticking.  (Sultanas BURN very quickly!!)  You will need to stir quite frequently as it thickens and nears completion (gently and slowly move the spoon around the base of the pan taking care not to break the surface of the mixture as it can spit quite violently).  It is ready when you can draw a spoon either across the base of the pan or through a spoonful of mixture on a plate and no watery liquid runs into the trail.  Or simply place a good spoonful of chutney on a plate and see if any liquid seeps out.  If it does, return to the pan and continue cooking.

Bottle in warm sterilised jars (chutney = square 200 jars).  Use a skewer or the thin handle of a long spoon, to remove the bubbles from the jar mixture.  Fill the jars to the base of the neck and add just a little more (½ teaspoon) as the mixture might shrink slightly when it cools.  Seal while hot.  Label when cold and store in a cool dark place.  Keep for a few months before opening to allow the flavours to develop.  Once open, store in a refrigerator.  It can be kept for 12-18 months.

Tips and tricks to avoid problems:

If after the sugar has been added, there seems to be an excess of liquid, simmer rapidly for a short period to remove some of the liquid.  Do not wait till the end as it will simply burn.  Extra liquid can come from  fruit which is very juicy/ripe.   Comic pears can be very juicy.

However, be careful not to remove too much liquid as the chutney needs to cook for at least 90 minutes after the sugar has been added to enable the flavours to mingle.  It is surprising how much liquid does evaporate at even a low cooking temperature.

Chutney is a balance of small soft pieces of fruit within a thickened sauce.  Be careful that all the fruit is not the type that does not breakdown.  If this happens you end up with pieces of fruit and a thin liquid which is never going to make a chutney.  I keep some “fluffed” apple – sort of pureed apple in the freezer so that I can add the odd spoon to thicken the liquid if this happens.  I freeze this as ice cubes as these are easier to incorporate from frozen.  If I am batch making over a few days and know I will need the apple, I make the pureed apple and keep in the fridge.   I tend to add in the last half hour of cooking.

Do NOT guess when the chutney looks ready.  Test and test again to ensure it is.  When cold, the chutney should be “set” but not hard.

Recipe courtesy of Elizabeth Highton – WEN Abundance chutney expert!

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