How much do I love making jams, chutneys and pickles? How long have you got? I bloody adore it. It’s the simplicity of sweating down ingredients, grinding spices and then getting to fill all the glass jars I’ve recycled.
Cleaning them up and getting the often impossible to remove labels off is a long task but once you’ve sterilised them, filled them, topped them with a wax disk and cellophane circle you get to choose beautiful fabrics to top your jars and create your own labels.
I lived in Bohemia in St. Leonards-on-Sea at the time so my made up manufacturer’s name was BohoHome at the time. Then you have to play the waiting game and lock them away until Christmas by which time they will have matured into glorious winter spiced delights. I adored how as each batch was added to my preserves shelf the colours of the fabrics grew and multiplied. This is a craft and all winter you can gift them to your friends and family. Chutneys are for life though not just for Christmas.
While this is not the right time of year for searching out gluts of fruit I decided it was only fair to share this recipe with you as many friends are always pestering me for it and I’ve not had a large enough pan to create a fresh batch since I sold my house and gave away all my belongings to travel and blog. But I’ve found some old photos so here is my magical recipe for what is really a chutney made with garlic, ginger and gin. Leave for a couple of months if you can but this pickle has no vinegar so matures at a quicker pace so can be eaten immediately.
1-2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp all spice
2 tsp coriander seeds
20 green cardamom pods
1 tsp of black peppercorns
20 juniper berries
200g root ginger
3 heads of garlic
50 ml water
1300g Spanish onions
625g Bramley apples
80g fennel root
3 limes juice and zest
1tbs black mustard seeds
250g white sugar
1tbs sea salt
2tbs ground turmeric
Grind the spice mix to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle. Liquidise the ginger, garlic and water to make a paste. Chopped all the apples, onions and fennel into very small pieces. Heat some oil in the bottom of a heavy jam pan. Add the spice mix and stir for a minute and then add the onions and soften. Keep the heat low so as not to brown them too much. Add half of the fennel and apples and stir again before tipping the paste in. Add the lime juice and zest, mustard seeds sugar, salt, gin and the water.
As the mixture starts to cook down keep adding more of the fruit and vegetables. It is essential to keep the liquid level very low or the pickle will be too wet to set. If it looks too viscous add a little more water. Do not add the turmeric yet. Simmer for at least an hour.
To sterilise the jar you can either put them and the lids into a dishwasher to clean or wash them by hand and pop then in a low oven at 140C, gas mark 2 for 10 minutes. Be careful not to add cold chutney to hot jars or vice-versa. The jars will crack. Best to allow the jars to cool little in the oven with the door open shortly before the chutney is ready to decant.
Turn off the heat and stir in the turmeric. Using a jam funnel fill each jar almost to the top and add a wax disk. Wax side down. Then add a cellophane circle and screw the lid on. Then leave to cool completely.
Finish with fabric hats secured with elastic bands and add a label. Pop a date on them. I have just enjoyed my last jar of Rhubarb and Cherry this Boxing Day and it was 2 years old.