apricot and ginger chutney 

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 60 minutes
Makes: 1.2 litres

500g cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped into small chunks
500g apricots, pitted and chopped [see below if using dried apricots]
240g or 2 medium onions, chopped
400ml white wine vinegar
300g soft brown or Demerara [raw] sugar
2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cardamom

1. Grease the base of the pan lightly with oil or butter. Combine the vinegar, sugar, garlic, mustard, ginger, cumin, coriander and cardamom in the pan. Stir over a low heat without boiling, until the sugar has dissolved.

2. Stir in the apples, apricots and onions.

3. Bring to the boil, then very gently simmer the mixture, uncovered, for about 60 minutes, or until thick and pulpy, and no excess liquid remains [see below]. Stir occasionally early in the cooking to check the mixture is not sticking or burning but stir more frequently towards the end of the cooking time.

4.When ready 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 and leave to mature for at least 2 months before eating. Use within 12months 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, how gentle the simmering 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.

• Alternative version: You can use dried apricots or a mix of fresh and dried. Before cooking, soak the apricots in water over night. Drain and use as per the recipe.

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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.

rhubarb & ginger jam 

Preparation time: 15 minutes + overnight soaking

Cooking time:  35 minutes [approximately]

Makes: 1.5 litres

1.5kg [3lb] trimmed rhubarb [leaves and ends removed]

1.5kg [3lb] sugar [granulated or preserving]

125ml [4fl oz] lemon juice

4cm [1 ½ inch] piece of fresh ginger, bruised with a hammer and finely chopped.

115g [4oz] crystallised or glace ginger finely chopped,.  Amount can be varied according to taste.

1. Cut the rhubarb into short pieces and alternatively laying with sugar and lemon in a glass [non-metallic] bowl and leave to stand over night. [Use later season mature rhubarb rather than the young slender spring stems for jam making.]

2. Next day scrape the rhubarb and sugar mixture into a large pan.  Place the bruised and chopped fresh ginger on a square of muslin [cheesecloth], tie securely with string and add to the pan.  Stir over a low heat for 5 minutes until the sugar has dissolved.  Bring the mixture to the boil and boil rapidly for 15-20 minutes stirring often.  Remove the root ginger and stir in the crystallised ginger. NB when I made this recipe I didn’t have any muslin so just added the grated ginger straight into the pan – it was fine!

3. Test for setting point when the jam looks thick and syrupy [see below].  When set, remove from the heat. Remove any scum from the surface with a large spoon. Remove and throw away the root ginger muslin bag and stir in the crystallised ginger.

4. Transfer the mixture to a heat – proof jug [can use a ladle and funnel] and immediately pour into warm jars, wipe down and add lids.  [See below]

5. Leave to cool. Use within 12 months of making.  Refrigerate after opening and use within 6 weeks.

Tips:

  • Try not to cook too much jam in one go. Do not use more than 4lb of fruit in a recipe at a time.
  • Make sure your pan is large enough and preferably, is heavy-based   Adding sugar increases the volume.  Jam can rise up the pan when boiling.
  • Bottles [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 ready to use.
  • Successful jams and preserves need an even balance of acid and pectin in the fruit.  Sugar and pectin play a part in the final firmness and flavour.
  • Sugar – is not simply a sweetener but is a preservative when used in high concentration as it acts to stop the development and growth of micro-organisms.  It is also a setting agent and aids the setting process in jams and jellies.  Acid in fruit forms a similar function.
  • Pectin – is found in the skin, flesh and seeds of most fruits to varying levels.  To test, place 2 teaspoons of methylated spirits in a cup, gently add 1 teaspoon of strained fruit mixture and stir gently.  It there is enough pectin to set the jelly or jam, clots should form into one large clump.  If they form only small clumps you will need to add some lemon juice to the mixture in the pan.
  • Cooking times – vary greatly depending on the size of pan used, fruit used, whether it is in season, it water content etc.  Therefore it is best to test the setting point sometimes 10 minutes before the time stated in the recipe.  Do not rely only on the times given.
  • Testing for setting point: Take a large spoon of jam, tilt it  and it should fall from the spoon heavily with 3 or 4 drops joining together as they drop.  They may form a sheet and be slow to drop.  It is ready for bottling.  Alternatively you can take a teaspoon of jam, put onto a cold plate [need to put these into a freezer when you begin], return to the freezer for 30seconds or till cooled to room temperature. There should be a skin on top of the jam which wrinkles if you gently push it with your finger – tip.