10 August 2014

Plum chutney

Plums are one of the great English summer fruits. When we bought our house, we were lucky enough to acquire a mature plum tree in the garden, and each August it produces a copious harvest. The fruits tend to ripen more or less at once, and we usually pick them over about 10-14 days. I like to eat a few raw, and plums are great cooked in crumbles, cobbler or tarts. There are always far more than we can use, so we preserve the bulk of them. Plums make one of my favourite jams, and they make a pretty mean ketchup too (I was converted to the plum variety of ketchup after a great tip from my friend Lorena, @lolylena on Twitter). This year we also made chutney. Plum chutney is a classic fruity chutney, which makes a great accompaniment to cheese or a pork pie. This recipe will make about 6-7 jars. You'll need a large pan (I use a 28cm stewpan), or use two smaller pans.


1.8kg plums, halved with stones removed
500g onion, coarsely diced
500g courgette, diced
100g prunes (or dried apricots), diced
3 garlic cloves, finely diced
40g fresh ginger, finely diced
600ml cider vinegar
450g light brown sugar
3 crumbled dried chillies
1 tbsp red peppercorns

For the spice bag:
3 star anise
10 cloves
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
10 black peppercorns

Prepare the vegetables, and add them to a large pan along with the sugar and the vinegar.

Tie up the spices in a piece of muslin, and put this in the pan. I usually tie this to the pan handle so it doesn't get lost.

Slowly bring the mixture to the boil, stirring occasionally. It will take a while, but don't rush it, as raising the heat slowly will produce a better flavour.

Once you've brought the pan to the boil, turn the heat right down, and let it simmer uncovered. It will take a good 2.5 to 3 hours to reduce sufficiently. Keep half an eye on the chutney, and stir occasionally. You'll need to stir it slightly more towards the end, as it is more likely to catch as liquid evaporates. It should reduce significantly.

To test to see if the chutney is done, pull a wooden spoon through the mix, if you can see the base of the pan for a few seconds, the chutney is sufficiently cooked.

Meanwhile, sterilise your jars (see here for how to do this). Fill the jars with the hot chutney, and seal.

Leave the chutney for at least two months, for the flavours to mellow, before eating.

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