Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Christmas Chutney

Making presents at Christmas has become cool again. It was OK when you were 9 years old, when you made your non-smoking mum an ashtray. It wasn't OK for 2 decades after that, but now it's OK again. As long as you make people things which: (a) they can eat; (b) don't necessarily have to be eaten within a week; (c) they wouldn't generally make themselves, and (d) are packaged attractively in re-usable receptacles, like a kilner jar.

Chutnies fill all these criteria. And this chutney is so delicious and unique that your happy recipient won't even notice that it only cost you £1 per jar to make. The kilner jars will cost you an extra £2 each, which means you are still on budget.

Makes 8 x 250g kilner jars


8 large cooking apples, peeled cored and roughly diced
400g luxury mincemeat
500ml cider vinegar
750g demerara sugar
1 tablespoon of mixed spice
1 tablespoon of mustard seeds
1 tablespoon of black onion (nigella) seeds
1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper

Place all ingredients in a large pan or wok and cook uncovered, on moderate heat to start with, and then a low heat, until the apples have disintegrated and the chutney has thickened  and coloured to a demerara sugar colour (3-4 hours approx). Decant to the sterilised kilner jars and place the jars in a roasting pan, half filled with water. Place pan in preheated 140c oven and bake for 20 mins to create a vaccuum.

Tell your friends not to eat the chutney for two weeks, to allow the vinegar to relax and the flavour to mature. The chutney will then keep, unopened, in a cool larder for 6 months; or 6 weeks, in a fridge, after opening.

N.B.When your recipient wishes to open the jar, they must use pliers to pull the rubber tab jutting from the ring, which will release the vacuum (who knew?).


How to Sterilise Kilner Jars

Dismantle the jars, by separating the rubber and metal parts, and place all parts directly on your oven shelf. Heat in a 140c oven for 30 minutes. Re-assemble the jars, making sure you do not touch the inside of the jars with your bare hands.

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