Until today, I’d always lived up to my scaredy cat name and been more than a little terrified of making preserves. It wasn’t so much making the chutney or jam itself, more the whole process of sterilising jars and keeping everything scrupulously clean. It always seemed like such a palaver and I was sure I’d mess it up, scold myself with boiling water and produce a preserve that didn’t last five minutes, rendering the whole thing pointless.
But then I discovered that you don’t have to boil your jars for ages in a humungous pan of water, you can actually perform the whole sterilisation process in a dishwasher on the hottest setting! I had to give it a go. All I already had the perfect beginners recipe.
Back in November, I visited my sister in New York and one lunchtime she presented me with a platter of round slices of toasted french bread, smothered in melted cheddar and served up with this chutney on the side. She’d made the chutney to use up a glut of apples from an apple picking trip to upstate New York and I immediately knew this recipe had to go on the blog. However, a lack of glass jars and me constantly forgetting to order them, combined with my preserving phobia, led to a 3 month time lag.
But I’m so glad I got there. This chutney is gorgeously sweet with a major kick from the chilli. It is ideal with a good strong cheese, a mature cheddar, some creamy goats cheese or even a cheeky slice of blue and I’d happily scoff some with a handful of papadums or on the side of a curry, in place of mango chutney. If you want a chunkier finish I’m sure you could swap out some of the cooking apples for an eating apple that won’t break down so easily. But either way you’ll want to put it on everything!
Apple & Chilli Chutney
Slightly adapted from All Recipes
Makes roughly 3 500ml jars
2 kg cooking apples (this the weight before they are peeled & cored)
1 red pepper
1 large onion
2 to 4 red chillies
2 tbsp fresh root ginger
2 cloves of garlic
300ml apple cider vinegar
200g light brown soft sugar
100g caster sugar
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
Peel, core and chop the apples into chunks and put them into a very large pan. Finely chop the pepper, onion, chillies and ginger and add them to the pan. Crush the garlic and add it together with the rest of the ingredients.
Stir well over a high heat until it starts to boil, then turn the heat low and leave it to bubble gently for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring every few minutes. By the end of its cooking time the chutney should be fairly thick (probably a little thicker than mine, as I covered the pan for part of the time, and I don’t think I should have!)
Spoon the hot chutney into some sterilised jars, seal them straight away and leave them to cool. They can be stored in the cupboard until opened, when you should pop them in the fridge. The flavour of the chutney will improve over a couple of weeks, so try to resist if you can!