Monday, 6 October 2008


For once, I haven't been able to find any musical theatre reference to 'chutney' aside from a minor character in Act 2 of 'Legally Blonde' so consider yourselves spared (well, for the time being at least.)

Life has resumed it's normal, hectic pace (thanks to large quantities of painkillers still, but the back is finally showing signs of improvement) here in chilly London, with Guiding taking up a large part of my time, work even more and sleep not nearly enough. However, I had a long weekend off work so decided to put Friday to good use. Today, not so much, I'm barely able to stand and despite intial thoughts of a Nigella Apple and Almond cake, the thought of trekking into the town centre (which takes approximately 4 minutes) is all too much - I may change my mind at lunchtime, or may continue to substitute tea for meals... we shall see.
So back to the tomato chutney. Over the past week, autumn has actually been fruitful, and for once I'm being literal and not metaphorical. I've have been the ever grateful recipient of a big bag of Bramley apples, and the insistent picker of about 3 kilogrammes of green tomatoes. Being saintly, I only kept half of those (I've yet to see what the grower of the tomatoes has done with his half!) and went to my usual fallback of the wonderful women on the f&d boards at To be fair I knew I wanted to make chutney and was already kicking myself for not following a friend's mothers (I confess, that apostrophe has beaten me) example and keeping all my jars so that it was quick and easy to do, but was forced (forced I tell you) to place an order with Lakeland for some, oh so pretty kilner jars, the pie pan I linked to last week, and somewhat randomly a staplefree stapler which I was sure I couldn't live without. Or something.
A very kind poster suggested the following recipe:

Chutney:1.5 kg (3lb) green toms,
250g (0.5lb) onions,
1kg (2lb) cooking apples,
500g (1lb) brown sugar,
250g (0.5lb sultanas,
60g (2oz) mustard seeds (soaked for 3 hours),
4 chillies, chopped,
1tsp ground ginger,
2.5 cups (625mls) vinegar
1. Coarsely mince the onions and tomatoes and put into a large bowl.
2. Sprinkle with the salt and set aside for 24 hours. Strain.
3. Put the onions, toms and remaining ingredients into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1.5hours.
4. Pour into warm sterilised jars and when cool, cover with two layers of greaseproof paper and one layer of aluminium foil. Tie securely with string.

So, this being me of course things didn't go entirely to plan. I blitzed the onions and tomatoes roughly in the food processor on Wednesday evening and put them in a bowl covered in clingfilm overnight. At this point I hit my first hurdle, salt. I don't add salt to food with much regularity so don't really keep it in the house, I know! I know food needs seasoning, it's just I seem to have a really sensitive sense of taste where it's concerned and unless it comes in the form of marmite, or on chips I can find it entirely overpowering as a seasoning. Now I don't care if that makes me some kind of foodie luddite, but I do care when it means all I have in the house is a tablespoon that I have eked out of a salt grinder. (Note to self: read whole recipe properly before starting) Anyway I decided that was enough and left the onions and tomatoes salting happily in the kitchen. Thursday night came and a Brownies meeting overran until 10pm so I took an executive decision to leave them salting until Friday morning and just put the mustard seeds in to soak. It didn't seem to harm them, although the vegetables were somewhat pungent when I started to drain them.

So Friday morning and I'm happily draining the water that has come out of the onions and tomatoes, blitzing up the chillis and apples in the food processor and borrowing the flatmates pan to cook the chutney in. Everything gets chucked in, stirred around and brought to the boil. Oh and prepare yourself for the smell - this is pungent stuff. Fabulous, but the smell was in my hair and about my person for hours - and that was with every window open and the extractor fan going full belt.

Anyway, it being a chuck it all in and let it cook for an hour and a half recipe, I made use of the time sensibly by finishing packing for Brownie holiday whilst watching musicals and entirely forgetting to sterilise my jars. If I were to make another batch, I would stir slightly more regularly than I did as I did manage to burn the bottom of the pan - no permanent damage fortunately, but still something I'd try to avoid in the future. When jarring (is that even a word?) the chutney a quick taste suggested that at present this is a very tart chutney, full of fruit and veg with a really nice thick consistency. At present it's maturing in our cellar, but come Christmas we'll officially open it and do a tasting session with some good, strong cheddar. But please, until then keep your fingers crossed for the green tomato chutney.
Other things cooking in the pantry over the last week; another Nigella chocolate Guinness cake (entirely consumed by cold, tired and wet Guiders this weekend) and a lot of pasta with tomato based sauces.

Come back next week to find out if I ever leave the confines of the flat to try the Nigella Apple and Almond cake (Feast ) and if I decide to brave pastry again... Watch this space!

And here endeth the first post with entirely NO mention of musical theatre *sob* it's a sad day for blogging when that happens...


Jules said...

I'll have to try this recipe next year as the Sarah Raven recipe we used this year went very very wrong!

Glad to hear your getting better.

Jess said...

In the movie of Legally Blonde the role of Chutney was played by Linda Cardellini who before starring in Scooby Doo and ER, made her stage debut at age 10 by singing in a school play.

And that, my friend, is your tenuous musical link ;)

Chocolate Shavings said...

I love chutney - and this one looks great!

Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said...

Great post, despite no MT references! I love making chutney and pickles and whatnot, but yeah, the house smelling like vinegar isn't so fun. I've made that apple and almond cake, it's really good, super moist and almondy.


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