WEN Spicy Apple Chutney

Ingredients

1.5 k of cooking apples

500g of onions

200g sultanas (green or golden)

Zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon

500ml of white wine vinegar

500g of Demerara sugar

1 ½ tablespoons of Baharat spices + pinch of cayenne pepper.  (Supermarkets and specialists shops sell Baharat spice mix eg Barts Spice

Wash, peel and core the apples and finely chop.  If the skins are unblemished and pale in colour then do not bother peeling.

Peel and very finely chop the onions.  Zest and juice the lemon.

Put in the spices, add the chopped onion, apple, sultanas and lemon zest in a heavy based pan.  Add the vinegar plus the lemon juice 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.

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.

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 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.

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.  I also cut down the amount of apple that I have added at the beginning.

Recipe courtesy of Elizabeth Highton – WEN Abundance chutney maker extraordinare!

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