Today I am promulgating a recipe for plum chutney. It is a modified version of a recipe I got from a bloke who I know only as “Kilburn”, who posts on the website of a group for gay enthusiasts of preserving. Isn’t the internet wonderful? Your house will stink of vinegar for about 3 days afterwards but don’t let that put you off. It is a delicious accompaniment to cold meats or cheeses, terrines and so forth and is dead easy.
But more importantly than being easy, it has a very healthy ease:impressiveness ratio – I would say about 1:4. This is the most important ratio in the bougie kitchen. There’s no point in the aspirational chef having people over for boring old soup. That’s easy, and everyone knows it. What you want to do is concentrate on things that are dead easy but that people think are mysterious and difficult. This will earn you foodie cred amongst your friends and allow you to opine with impunity about all things food related, for example by writing a blog.
1kg plums (net weight after stones removed), halved
1 large onion, diced
500g brown sugar
600mL cider vinegar
100g sultanas or raisins
100g dried figs, chopped
A thumb-sized piece of root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
5 birdseye chillis, finely chopped (and I remove the seeds)
8 cardamom pods, bashed
2 star anise
15 juniper berries
2 bay leaves
- Tie the cardamom pods, cloves, star anise, juniper berries and bay leaves in muslin/cheesecloth to make a little spice bag.
- Dump all the other ingredients in a large non-reactive saucepan (I used a casserole). Add the spice bag.
- Boil until thick. Kilburn says 30 minutes but I found that it needs at least 45, perhaps even a bit longer. Be aware that it will get thicker as it cools.
- Remove spice bag.
- While the chutney is boiling, sterilize your jars. Do not be intimidated. Take some screw-top lid jars (if you are re-using jars with labels, remove the labels), wash them thoroughly in soapy water and drain. Then place the jars on a baking tray and place in the oven for 10 minutes at 180C. Then turn the oven off and leave the jars in the oven until you need them. Meanwhile boil the lids in water for about 10 minutes.
- Pot the hot chutney into your sterilized jars. Again, do not be intimidated. The easiest way not to get into a mess is to use a jam funnel and a sterilized 1L Pyrex jug or a ladle. Place the jar on the benchtop. Place the funnel in the jar. Scoop up the chutney into the jug and then pour into the jar. Repeat until you have filled your jars. Screw the lids on tightly while the chutney is still hot. If you have half a jar left, don’t worry, just eat that one first.
Store in a cool, dry place. By which I mean a cupboard, not a Dalston nightclub for recovering alcoholics. This chutney does not need to be kept for any period before it is ready to eat, although it will improve in the jar and last for ages.