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Friday, 18 May 2012

Apple Chutneys


This recipe is for Gary, who accepted a jar of chutney as a gift a year ago and only found it recently at the back of his cupboard.  It was to be part of the feasting surrounding his wedding, but was put away.  Hence the slightly desperate texts, “Is it still ok?  (His new wife is now pregnant.)  I have visions of him subsisting on brown bread, cheese and chutney (how bad?) while they await their new arrival.  Having opened it the next text was “Can I have the recipe”

This is an old Theodora FitzGibbon recipe.  She wrote for the Irish Times when I first started reading about food, and I have many of her old articles cut out and stuck into an old recipe book.  They fall out from time to time and never fail to bring a smile to my face.  There is a lovely gentle quality to her writing, but solid recipes and lots of them.  One article I have on pancakes has a basic recipe and 5 savoury and five sweet fillings, plus a sweet lemon sauce for pouring over!

Back to chutney, this is the first variation (makes about 5lbs)

11/2 kilos (3lbs) of cooking apples
2 large onions finely chopped
1 ltr (11/2 pints) cider vinegar
450g (1lb) brown sugar
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 rounded teaspoons of salt
350g (12oz) raisins
4 crushed garlic cloves
3 teaspoon of ground ginger
3 teaspoon of mustard
2 teaspoons of paprika
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of ground cumin

Peel, core and chop the apples.  Prepare the onions and put into a large saucepan with a heavy bottom.  Add all the other ingredients and mix well.  Bring to the boil and simmer uncovered for about 2 hours, stirring from time to time so it does not stick.  The smell is terrible and you will wonder what you are wasting your time at!  Take care and stir often at the end when it sticks easily.

When fairly dark and thick, bottle in warm jam jars and cover. Do make sure it has evaporated well and does not have too much liquid left.  You should be able to run your spoon through it without liquid filling into the gap too quickly.  Those cellophane covers you can buy in packets are good for covering the jars, as the vinegar tends to corrode the lids over time.  If you don’t have them, cover with cling film and then top a jar lid. 

Keep it at least a month for the vinegar to mellow, six weeks if possible.  The first ones will still taste a little harsh, and by the last one, you will be licking your lips.  Oh yes, the other variations

Apple and Date Chutney

Ease off on the spice a bit, one teaspoon of each is enough and swap the raisins for chopped dates

Apple, Ginger and Garlic Chutney

Use same amount of apples and onions, ease off on the spices for this one too, and add a whole head of chopped garlic and 125g/4oz chopped crystalised ginger and method as before. 

I have a recipe for Rhubarb Chutney, but honestly that will just drive you mad!  The rhubarb stick so easily if you abandon it for any length of time.  When I see you have managed this one, I might just post that.  It is divine with the Christmas leftover ham, mmmm

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