As promised, here is the recipe for the “better than Branston chutney”. If you like this spicey style of dark chutney with a good good mix of fruit and spice, I promise you’ll never buy another jar of Branston again. I doubled up the ingredients listed below to make 10 decent sized jars.
3 lb purple plums (damsons would work just as well)
2 heaped teaspoons ground ginger
2 small cinnamon sticks
1 oz allspice berries (I didn’t have any, so put 1.5 tsp of ground allspice in)
1 dessert spoon of cloves
2 pints malt vinegar (I used a mix of white wine and red wine vinegars and balsamic)
1 lb cooking apples
3 large onions
3 cloves garlic
1 lb seedless raisins (I used sultanas)
1 lb soft brown sugar I’ve seen similar recipes, which add another 1lb of sugar, but I think chutney shouldn’t be overly sweet – it needs a bit of sweet and sour!
2 tablespoons sea salt
De-stone plums and put fruit in a big pan. Core the apples but leave the peel on, and finely chop them by hand or in a processor. Then process the onions. Add both to the pan. Crush the garlic and add that, followed by the ginger, raisins, sugar, salt and the vinegar. Stir thoroughly. Wrap the cinnamon, allspice (if using whole) and cloves in muslin and pop in the pan.
Bring everything to the boil, then lower the heat and let the chutney simmer very gently for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally, but more often towards the end to prevent it sticking to the bottom. When almost all the vinegar has disappeared and the chutney has thickened pour it into the hot, sterilised jars. Cover each with a waxed disc and seal tightly.
Leave for at least a couple of months, but the longer you leave it, the more chance the flavours have to mellow and mingle. It’s a shame we finished the final jar of last year’s chutney a couple of weeks ago as I’d have been able to show you how dark it gets. I also introduced a new taste sensation to our merry band of helpers who now enjoy the sublime combination of chutney with houmous.
Elsewhere, the screed has been laid for the new pergola and we’ve had two large pallets of stone slabs or chianche de Trani delivered. We cemented some rebar into the floor to be used to form legs for a 3-metre long stone banqueting table. I know it’s not very green to build a cement floor but we did, at least get to reuse old blocks to create the form and got rid of a mountain of old flooring rubble. You see chianche floors in many trullis and courtyards as well as roads in the old parts of towns.
From my limited research it seems that limestone flooring in Puglia has been popular since at least the Middle Ages.
If you click on the photo, you’ll see some of the chestnut poles we will use to build the pergola structure with. We get them from a guy who copices a 7-hectare chestnut wood in Calabria. He can supply poles of almost any dimension, so we also picked up some thinner ones to be used to make an outdoor shower cubicle with.
The fencing also comes up to the house now, so the dogs are just getting used to not being able to run over to next door’s to chase birds.