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Chutney: An Illustrated Odyssey from Vine to Jar - 1 to 5
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Allen Key
Stagnating, like a packet of crisps on the roof.
Tue 23rd Sep '08 3:46PM
510 Posts
Allen Key's Avatar
Member Since
10th Oct '04
Or, 'Allen Key Was Bored One Afternoon'.

This so-called 'summer' I made my first foray into growing my own veg. Or, more accurately, my mum gave me some tomato seedlings and I watered them when I could be arsed. A goodish number of dainty little fruits even made so bold as to venture forth into the world. Sadly, since the sun hasn't exactly had his hat on of late, most of them stayed resolutely green. With the nip and tang of autumn in the air, and the plants looking increasingly ropey,

it was time to harvest nature's bounty, ripe or not:

To my mind, green tomatoes + autumnal loveliness = chutney. After writing down, losing, half-remembering and abandoning several recipes, here's wot I done.

First thing is to get the jars properly sterilised:

Fill with boiling water, into the oven at GM4 for about 40 mins, empty, back in for 10 mins, then switch off the oven and leave them in there till you're nearly ready to use them. (Not sure if this is 'properly' as such, but t'will suffice.)

Musical Interlude #1 - At this point, Dermot O'Leary was playing a cheering and informative ditty called 'Pee Keeps Our Inside Clean' on his Radio 2 show.

Next, pluck all the toms from the vines and give them a good wash because they've been outside and who knows what's been on them. See how pretty, like emeralds and rubies:

For scale, that's my little finger. Weeny, ain't they? But tiny tommytoes do not a chutney make, so here are the other ingredients:

Fancy salt, malt vinegar, demerara sugar, handful of sultanas, pinch of cumin seeds, 6 cardamom pods, peppercorns, big pinch of caraway seeds and a nubble of fresh ginger about the size of a large man's thumb.

Make a sort of teabag: smash up the cardamom and put it in a coffee filter with the other spices. Peel the ginger, grate the soft outside and set aside. Chop up the fibrous middle bit, put it in the teabag and sort of swish everything together with your finger as best you can. IMPORTANT: stick your nose in and have a good old sniff. It's magnificent. Fasten with a cocktail stick.

Put the toms in a pan with the sultanas.

I had 1lb of toms, so I reckoned 1/4 lb sugar and 1/2 pt vinegar was about right (imperial measures only. You can't make chutney in metric.). Chuck in the teabag, grated ginger and a generous smattering of salt. Bring it up to the boil, and keep it moving so it doesn't catch. At this stage I also added a large splodge of treacle, because I'm naturally impetuous.

Musical Interlude #2 - For reasons that seemed entirely logical at the time, I filmed myself stirring this to the accompaniment of 'Hold Me Closer Tiny Dancer' by Elton John, but I don't know how to make it be on the internets.

Boil it quite hard for about half an hour, till the toms go squidgy and the vinegar reduces. If it's looking a bit vinegary still, tip some out. It wants to be stickily spludgy rather than runny, and should end up vaguely like this:

Take the jars out of the oven and take the chutney off the heat. Leave them to cool for the exact length of time it takes to drink a cup of coffee and eat 2 (dark) chocolate HobNobs (the jars need to be still warm when they're filled). You may want to take this opportunity to pick out any bits of tomato skin, or any rogue peppercorns that escaped when you prodded the teabag too hard and it burst. Chutney into jars:

Top with discs of greaseproof paper (you can get proper waxed paper, but it hardly seemed worth it for 2 jars):

And as the French would say: there you have it!

I'm going to let it keep for a month before wiring in, but initial spoon-lickings were encouraging.

Misses his big brother :(
Wed 24th Sep '08 9:40AM
4597 Posts
Spanners's Avatar
Member Since
7th Apr '03
What a fantastic post! I've actually always wondered how to make chutney - I get through so much branston I should really start doing it myself!

My ape goosed a Bishop. Who are you?
Wed 24th Sep '08 11:16AM
1673 Posts
Malcolm's Avatar
Member Since
3rd Jun '03
Allen Key, this post roundly wins you the prize for Best Thing of the Month. How brilliant!

I especially love the photo of the three green tomatoes in a line. That's art, that is. Do you by any chance have a larger version - and, if so, would you be averse to my using it as the background for a regular page in a York-based magazine that I design each month?

Now, if only the chutney were to be ready in time for the Miracle Fruit tasting...

Allen Key
Stagnating, like a packet of crisps on the roof.
Wed 24th Sep '08 3:15PM
510 Posts
Allen Key's Avatar
Member Since
10th Oct '04

Spanners was bold enough to comment:
What a fantastic post! I've actually always wondered how to make chutney - I get through so much branston I should really start doing it myself!

Ta, Spanners! You should definitely have a go, it's good for the soul. There's plenty of stuff on t'web to give you a better idea of quantities/timings etc - playing about with the flavourings is the fun bit.

Malcolm - I was rather proud of that pic meself! I do indeed have a (much) larger version which I'll send your way. You're very welcome to use it

Not sure how it'd work with the miracle fruit, since it's already quite sweet? I could bring some along, though, if you wanted to try it - it'll have had a good couple of weeks to mature by then.

Windows Bob - the best!
Wed 24th Sep '08 8:40PM
4213 Posts
General's Avatar
Member Since
7th Apr '03
That's brilliant!

I am a big chutney fan.

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