Canning and Preserving - The Fall Series: Late Summer Chutney


This is one of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's seasonal chutneys. We had lots of plums lying about and lots of fruit flies lying in wait of their over ripe magnetism so it was the perfect thing to get our Fall Series rolling!

You start out by making your spice bag and tying it up in an 8 inch square of cheesecloth. This one (as you'll see in the complete recipe at the bottom of the post) contains fresh ginger, black peppercorns and yellow mustard seeds.

Peel and dice all of your fruit. This step is a little tedious, but I like to look at it as the Zen of cooking. Besides, aside from the peeling and dicing, the only other thing you have to do is put all the ingredients in the pot, turn on the burner and enjoy the glorious aromas for the next few hours. Hugh's recipe does not call for peeling the plums, but since I was using a lot of the prune plums in my combination of plums, I felt there would be too much skin in the mix.

You put your spice bag and all of the ingredients in a large, open stainless steel or non-reactive pot. From there, you bring it slowly to a boil, stirring it occasionally and then bring down the heat and let it simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

This is what the chutney looks like after it has been simmering for 2 hours. I let it go another hour and it thickened quite a bit in that one hour. Pot it while it's still warm and process it in a hot water bath, the stash it in a dark cupboard somewhere for a couple of months and it will mellow and be perfect with your Thanksgiving meal. You will also have a truly terrific homemade gift to bring along if you aren't doing the holiday cooking.

Late Summer Chutney

Recipe adapted from The River Cottage Preserves Handbook

For the spice bag

2 ounces fresh ginger

2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds

2 teaspoons black peppercorns

2 1/4 pounds plums, quartered and pitted

1 pound, 10 ounces pears, peeled, cored and diced

1 pound, 10 ounces cooking apples, peeled, cored and diced

1 pound, 2 ounces shallots, peeled and diced (I didn't have shallots so I used red onion)

1 1/2 cups pitted prunes, coarsely chopped

Make your spice bag by tying up the spices in an 8-inch square of cheesecloth. put this into a preserving pan with all the other ingredients and bring slowly to a boil, stirring occasionally. This will take awhile, as there will be lots in the pan, but don't hurry it.

Let the mixture simmer, uncovered, for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Stir regularly, to make sure it doesn't burn, but you don't have to hover over it. It's ready when it is glossy, thick, rich in color and well reduced - but the chunks of fruit and vegetables are still clearly discernible. It is thick enough when you draw a wooden spoon through it, the chutney parts to reveal the bottom o the pan for a few seconds.

Pot the chutney while warm in sterilized jars. Pack down with the back of a spoon to remove any air pockets. Seal with vinegar-proof lids. Process in a hot water bath and when finished store in a cool dark place for a couple months to mature before using. Use within 2 years.

The recipe says the it makes 12 to 13 8 ounce jars. Not. I got 6 1/2 jars out of it. Not sure where the difference came in, but it was half of what it should have made.