Well, after a post on wrinkles, what else could I call a post on jam- and chutney-making?
I went and picked apples yesterday. They were looking so lovely, I couldn’t bear to waste them:
So, I turned them into this:
Spiced Apple Chutney
This is the basic recipe I used, which makes a few jars. I had almost exactly 3 kg of apples, so I trebled all the other ingredients, and it turned out fine. I find that if you use all cooking apples, rather than all eaters or a mix, this is quite sharp. I really like a sharp chutney, but if you like something a bit more mild-mannered, replace a cupful of the vinegar with apple juice.
* 225g/8oz onions, chopped
* 900g/2lb apples, cored and chopped
* 110g/4oz sultanas, raisins or chopped dates
* 15g/½oz ground coriander (I used coriander seeds I’d bashed with the pestle and mortar)
* 15g/½oz paprika (I also added some chili flakes that were lurking about)
* 15g/½oz mixed spice
* 15g/½oz salt
* 340g/12oz granulated sugar
* 425ml/¾ pints malt vinegar
1. Put all the ingredients into a preserving pan. Slowly bring to the boil until the sugar has dissolved.
2. Simmer for 1½-2 hours, stirring from time to time to stop the chutney sticking to the pan.
3. When it is very thick and you can draw a wooden spoon across the base of the pan so that it leaves a channel behind it that does not immediately fill with liquid, the chutney is ready.
4. Turn into sterilised jars, seal and cool.
5. Store in a cool, dark cupboard for two to three months before eating.
And then there were the crabapples. I have never cooked with them before, and I’ve never eaten them, either. But they looked so lovely on the tree I felt it would be a sin to let them go to waste.
I knew that people made crabapple jelly, so I did too. I have never made jelly before, so I scavenged some muslin from a neighbour and used a recipe I found on the Waitrose website:
4 kg crab apples
1 kg caster sugar
1 lemon, juiced
1. Wash the apples, remove the blossom heads and cut out any bruised bits. Put in a saucepan, fill with water to cover the apples and bring to the boil. Simmer for 25 minutes until the fruit is soft. Pour the pulp into a jelly bag or several layers of muslin and let drip overnight into a pan beneath. Don’t squeeze the bag, it will cloud the jelly.
2. The next day, measure the juice, and combine with sugar at the ratio of 10 parts juice to 7 sugar. Add the lemon, then bring to the boil to dissolve the sugar. Keep at a rolling boil for 35–40 minutes, skimming off the froth regularly. To test, chill a dessertspoon in the fridge. When the jelly is set, it will solidify on the back of the spoon. Pour into warm, sterilised preserving jars and tightly seal while still slightly warm. Store in a cool dark place.
The page says that the preparation time is 20 minutes, to which I say, ‘Pah!’ And indeed, ‘Pshaw’. Show me the person who can wash, top and tail 4 kg of crabapples and set up a muslin draining arrangement in 20 minutes. I had 5 kg and it took two of us the length of Kylie’s latest album to get through them. I added a sloosh of last year’s damson gin, and a very old mulled wine spice sachet which I found lurking in the cupboard. (Best before October 2006. Oops.). It worked fabulously, just giving a hint of warm spiciness. It also looks heavenly. Look at it!
I love making preserves – I can’t think of another sort of cooking that makes me feel so accomplished. I also feel thriftily virtuous for using the apples from the garden, and I am now wondering else to make while I have the preserving bug…