Chutney Factory, Round One

At the risk of ruining the surprise of what I'll be giving as Christmas presents this year, I thought it would be worth it to document my chutney-making adventure here. I've always wanted to make my own jars of something for gifts, and being in England, what better than to give the gift of chutney? For my American readers who can't be bothered to click on that last link, chutney is a sauce that English people like to eat with cheese and crackers, or on a sandwich, but originally comes from India (and is most commonly seen in Indian restaurants as a dip for poppadoms). Have you ever heard of a ploughman's lunch? You should. It's yum. And usually involves some form of chutney. (Phil likes to call it "chutters" - say it with an English accent - it just works)

Anyway, back to the task at hand: making my own chutney from scratch with absolutely no experience and only the internet and Jamie Oliver's jamie at home cookbook to guide me (he has a good recipe in there along with some helpful chutney-making tips). The first thing I did was narrow down my recipe choices. In the end I went with an apple & cranberry chutney recipe from BBC's Good Food. I chose this one for two reasons: [1] cranberrrrriiieeeessssssssss and [2] I wanted to make a red looking one because it's Christmas after all.

Next, I ordered some preserving jars and labels from this awesome website, aptly named the jam jar shop. Another fun fact about the jam jar shop: they are based in Oakham where Phil's parents live and where he grew up. It's a pretty small town so that's significant, trust me.

I already had the cranberries (frozen though), so I bought a bag of cooking apples and a bag of cox apples at my local farmer's market, along with some onions and ginger. The rest of the ingredients we already had, so with a spare afternoon the other day, I got to work.

(Side note: my flat STILL smells faintly of vinegar two days on, so be warned...)

Apple & Cranberry Chutney

From bbc's good food recipe. Makes ~10 almost-full 250ml jars.

Aren't they PRETTY???? Ooh I'm just in love with the color.

The particulars:

  • 4 large cooking apples (I used the bramley variety)
  • 4 medium regular apples (I used the English cox variety)
  • 3 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 a root of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 2.5 cups sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 5 cups cranberries
  1. Place all ingredients except cranberries in a large heavy-based saucepan, then gently heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 50 mins, stirring regularly until the apples and onions are tender, the mixture has thickened and no watery juice remains.
  2. While this is cooking, sterilize the jars by either placing them (and lids) in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes or on a tray in a low oven for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the cranberries, then cook for a further 10 mins or so until just softened but not burst.
  4. Spoon the hot chutney into sterilised jars and seal. Store unopened in a cool, dark place. The chutney will keep for up to 6 months. chill on opening.

Lesson learned: One thing I learned AFTER I had already put the chutney in jars and was past the point of no return was that you need to fill the jars to about 4mm below the top before sealing. Oops. Mine aren't filled as high as they should be, so actually this recipe probably makes 9 rather than 10 of this size jar. Still, I did my research, and it looks like there won't be any contamination or sterilization issues. Don't worry, family and friends who are getting this as a Christmas present from me! It will be perfectly safe to eat! I'm definitely keeping one for myself and I just hope it turns out okay. They say it takes 4-6 weeks for the flavor to develop... curses!