Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Helena's Chutney and Other Delights from Arundel

My friend Helena is an avid and knowledgeable gardener. You can read my earlier posts about her here and here and look at her blog spade and trowel.

Recently she gave me some of her fresh garlic. It was such an interesting shape that I put it on my bench and displayed it - many have commented on the beautiful garlic sculpture. Alas, my stock of local garlic is nearly gone and it will be put to use.

We trade produce and preserves and this is her chutney - it is delicious.

Like all cooks she has adapted the recipe that was originally from one of her aunts, the original does not have capsicum. Helena’s suggestion: Add 3 large red capsicums diced to ‘cool’ the hot tomato base prior to adding thickening paste.  I have adjusted Helena's recipe to suit metric measurements and included the capsicum.

Helena’s Chutney

Also known as ‘Lilian’s Tomato Chutney’ aka ‘Auntie Anne’s Chutney’

6 lb tomatoes (3kg)
2 lb onions (1kg)
3 large red capsicums
A handful of cooking salt

2 lb sugar (1 kg)
1 pint white wine vinegar (600ml)

½ cup plain flour
2 tablespoons curry powder (Clive of India is what the McCanns used)
2 tablespoons mustard
2 tablespoons tumeric
½ teaspoon cayenne

Helena’s suggestion: Add 3 large red capsicums diced to ‘cool’ the hot tomato base prior to adding thickening paste.

Skin the tomatoes and peel the onions.  Thinly slice onions into quarter rounds and place in the bottom of a deep heavy pan.  Chop tomatoes and place over onions and sprinkle with cooking salt.  Stand overnight.

Drain off brine, setting a small amount of liquid aside to mix dry ingredients later. Add sugar and vinegar. Bring slowly to the boil and cook briskly for 1 hour, or until sugar is well dissolved and mixture is reduced – the longer the mix is cooked the deeper the colour. 

While mixture is boiling combine dry ingredients and add a small amount of excess liquid and a little vinegar.  Combine into a sloppy paste then add some of the liquid from the pot to make a slightly runny mix.  Take pot off the boil and allow to cool (add optional peppers now) then combine flour mixture carefully to prevent lumps forming (cooling helps to prevent the lumps).  

Finally cook over a low heat, stirring constantly – the flour mix thickens the chutney and the mix will now require constant stirring or will stick to the bottom of the pot.  When the desired consistency is reached (usually about 20 minutes) decant into hot sterilized jars and seal.

The chutney keeps best in a dark cupboard. Wonderful served with thick slabs of bread, sharp cheddar cheese and slathered with chutney.  Yum!

Autumn harvest at it's best - a delicious pumpkin from her garden - I have plans for it.

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