WEN chilli chutney 

Preparation time: 35 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Makes: 2 kg/ 4½ lbs

115 g [4 oz] fresh root ginger, peeled and finely shredded
1kg [2lb] cooking apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
675 g [1½ lbs] onions, peel, quarter and slice thinly
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
225g [8oz] raisins or sultanas
450ml [1¾pints] malt or wine vinegar
400g [14oz] soft brown or Demerara [raw] sugar
2 fresh red chillies and 2 fresh green chillies [Scotch Bonnets are very hot]
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon salt [optional]

1. Grease the base of the pan lightly with oil or butter. Add the prepared root ginger, prepared apples and prepared onions in a large pan with the garlic, raisins and vinegar. Bring to the boil, then simmer steadily for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples and onions are thoroughly softened.

2. Add the sugar and stir, over a low heat, until all the sugar has dissolved. Simmer the mixture for about 40 minutes until thick and pulpy, stirring frequently towards the end of the booking time.

3. Halve the chillies and remove the seeds, then slice them finely. [Either use gloves or always wash your hands with soapy water immediately after handling chillies and do not touch your face, eyes or mouth.]

4. Add the chillies to the pan and cool for a further 5-10 minutes, or until no excess liquid remains [see below]. Stir in the salt [if using] and turmeric. Then spoon the chutney into warmed sterilized jars. Use a skewer or the long handle of a spoon to remove any air bubbles. Cover with a lid and seal immediately.

5. Leave to cool. Label and store in a cool dark place. Leave to mature for at least 2 months before eating. Use within 2 years of making. Once open, store in the refrigerator and use within 6 weeks.

Tips:

• Chutneys, which are made from vegetables, fruit, sugar, spices and vinegar, are cooked until very thick and the cooking is long and slow. They need to be left for 2 months before eating to allow the flavours to develop.

• Make sure your pan is large enough and preferably, is heavy-based. Do not leave vegetables or vinegar standing in aluminium pans for more than an hour.

• Vinegar- use a good quality vinegar with at least 4% acetic acid [can be malt, white or red wine vinegar]. Cheap vinegars do not contain enough acetic acid to act as a preservative.

• Sugar is not simply a sweetener but is also a preservative when used in high concentration as it acts to stop the development and growth of micro-organisms. Brown or white sugar is used in chutneys- brown sugar simply gives a richer flavour and colour.

• Bottle [jars]- check there are no chips or cracks. Wash bottles and lids in a dishwasher or hot soapy water and rinse well. Dry and sterilise the bottles in the oven. Place on a baking tray and leave in an oven [preheated to 120 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark ½ ] for 20 minutes or until ready to use.

• Cooking times can vary depending on the size of pan used, fruit and vegetables used, whether they are in season, their water content etc.

• Stirring- chutneys must be stirred often to prevent sticking and burning on the bottom of the pan. Stir across the base of the pan not just around the edge.

• Test for when ready to bottle- place a spoonful of mixture on a plate. Draw the spoon though and the trail left should be clean without any runny liquid. Keep cooking till you achieve this. Alternatively just draw the spoon across the base of the pan.

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