Saturday, 15 September 2012

Take a Chance on Chutney

Who knew - but honestly, chutney is the EASIEST thing in the world to make! Seriously. I only found out because I was told. Nigella Lawson told me, in "How to be a Domestic Goddess" there is a chapter entitled "The Domestic Goddess's Larder". The opening line of the chapter introduction was good and drew me in; "there are few things that make us feel so positively domestic as putting food in store". And the whole chapter itself; pickling, preserving and all that; seems so "English" somehow. I was living in London at the time, and married to an Englishman (well, he is at least half English). He confirmed my suspicions of pickling being a very English kind of activity when he told me that he's extremely English grandfather used to make chutney on a regular basis.

Anyhow, I read the first chutney recipe in the chapter out of curiousty, I had no intention of making my own chutney - it's the 21st century and I'm an emancipated woman, I cried to myself! But honestly, the recipe was so ridiculously easy, I paused for thought. As the lady herself says, "chutneys, you should know before reading further, are a breeze to make. You simply chuck everything in one pan for about 30 minutes until you've got a pulpy mass." And it really is that simple.
The only "difficult" thing about this recipe (and I use that term loosely) is organising yourself to go out and buy all the spices. And once you have them in the store cupboard, you'll be a long while using them up, they last ages and yield plenty of chutney.

I make this chutney regularly, I've tried a few others from the book, but this is our firm favourite. I love it on a plain ham sandwich, it's fantastic with sausage rolls and also great with Cornish pasties (but I don't make those that often, they are a faff - although I have all that left over turnip from the shepherd's pie... hmm... !).

Give it a go - it'd be a great and inexpensive present for people around Christmas time and would be gorgeous with the Christmas leftovers, and a whole heap less bother than making fiddly little mince pies for everyone.

PS - regarding jars, I consider jars fresh from the dishwasher as beautifully sterilized, but if you have greater qualms than me, feel free to stick them in the baby's bottle sterilizer, or follow some of the more traditional methods.

Spiced Apple Chutney

Ready to be cooked
  • 500g cooking apples (I often use a couple of apples extra)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 bird's eye chillies
  • 250g demerara sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of chopped or grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 350ml cider vinegar (or indeed, white wine or other white vinegar will do fine)
  • 4 x 250ml jars, or equivalent
Bubbling and thickening nicely
  1. Peel and roughly chop the apples, and finely chop the onion
  2. Chop the chillies finely - whether or not you deseed the chilli is up to you. The original recipe says to deseed, but I found that a bit sweet and lacking in bite. Last time, I left them in. It really was not very spicy at all, there was just a mild glow (and believe me, I am a chilli wuss!) so I'd suggest leaving them in
  3. Put all the ingredients in a pan and bring to the boil, then cook over a medium heat for 30 - 40 minutes (without a lid), until the mixture thickens a little, then spoon into jars and put them in your store cupboard (or "kitchen press", as we like to say here in Ireland)
Anyhow, enjoy - I guarantee, everyone will be mightly impressed with your domesticity; to the point where no one will believe your protestations of how simple it all is. Of course, I should have a gorgeous picture of a jamjar full of chutney with a pretty, crimped Cath Kidston type floral paper lid (and I'm not at all surprised to find that her site has a "jamjar sticker kit" for sale!) - but honestly, it never lasts long enough in our house to take such a picture...

Sarah xx

3rd Oct. 2013 
Just a quick edit / add-on to say: I used 3 bird's eye chillis in the recent batch I made, and I left the seeds in. It has resulted in a chutney with quite a nice tingle, so if you fancy your chutney with a bit more of a chilli kick, then that's the way forward.


  1. Oh yum. I rarely make chutney and I'd never thought of making it with apples. They're in perfect season around now. I'll have to give this a go.

  2. Done, it is indeed very simple and the smell of it in the house is only divine! I will be making it again and love the idea of donating to friends, currently saving some "cute" jars. Only word of warning would be to relabel jars as poor Grandad got some shock when he thought he was having three fruit marmalade on his toast....

  3. Course if I was any kind of a blogger at all, there would be a picture of a gorgeous, Cath Kidston type jar.... Oh well, be glad that I am more honest than that!