Plumson Chutney. Never heard of it? That's because I just made it up! I'll explain why as the story of chutney making unfolds.
You might remember that I mentioned that John & I don't have space for fruit trees or to grow our own fruit & vegetables at our current home. Now, this might not be reason alone for what I am about to confess, but I'd like to say in our favour, that if we had a garden with fruit trees in it, we might just know a little bit more about them...
Having gathered up our fruits & brought them safely home, we set about making the chutney. I had found a delicious looking recipe online here, courtesy of our very own Delia Smith. She is a brilliant lady, I must say.
I like to think that cooking & baking are arts that allow for every individual's creative license. I also happily acknowledge that creative license in these areas has its limitations in that there is a science involved in cooking that sometimes gets disrupted if you stray too far from a given recipe. On this occasion, however, mixing things up was an essential ingredient.
Our trip to Long Ashton had been necessary - we already had some damsons but not enough to make a batch of chutney. When the moment came for us to unite the baby batch of damsons waiting expectantly in our fridge with the fresh-from-the tree damsons, we came across a slight problem. Let me show you...
Do you see the problem?
Let me give you a little clue. Bearing in mind that we did not use an ultra huge super duper zoom to take this picture, do the fruits that I am holding look the right size for damsons?
I can assure you, damsons, they are not.
As I mentioned earlier, John & I are not fruit growing experts, so when presented with a whole load of fruit trees (some of which were clearly apple trees) we went for the one that had purple fruit. I think I was so excited about the fact that we were picking fruit for free that I didn't even stop to think about whether or not we were getting the right fruit. Plums. We collected 800 grams of plums.
So, having made a fruit faux pas, we simply allowed creative license to take over in the chutney making challenge. Our chutney was to be a hybrid plum & damson chutney. It totally works.
We used 550g of damsons (the real deal, I assure you) and 800g of plums.
To add to chutney-deliciousness the recipe required that we add a collection of spices to our pan & let them infuse while the chutney cooks. In order to do this, you wrap cinnamon sticks, cloves & all-spice berries in muslin, tie with string, and pop it in the pan.
We don't happen to have any babies around yet. No babies = no muslins. So, here's what we did:
We cut up a piece of lace not too dissimilar from a net curtain, and after a little thinking outloud as to whether there might be any plastic content in the fabric which might melt under the heat, we dropped our little sacks of spicy goodness into our two pans.
(Chutney recipes are designed to make a large batch which means you need a large preserving pan. We made do with two large - 10 litreish flameproof casserole dishes which worked just fine.)
After adding a little dash of ginger to the fruity fray, we sat happy for the next 3.5 hours while the vast amounts of vinegar worked their magic. The result was 12 jars of chutney goodness. Oh yum.
If you are following the recipe I have linked to, it says that it makes 6 jars - we simply bought smaller jars to make it go further and because I think that hexagonal jars are cute.