Appletastic!

Can’t believe how many apples we’ve harvested from our apple tree! The kitchen is full to bursting with them and we still haven’t quite worked out what to do with them all! Some are windfall ones carefully picked up off the ground, so a few have bruises, others were pulled off the tree by DJ on a step ladder before one dropped on his head and he nearly broke his neck falling off the ladder.

Well, it was high time we did something with them I’m sure you’ll agree! So I’ve been busy over the weekend trying to make apple chutney from some of them, although I admit I’ve barely made a small dent in the backlog.

I compared a number of recipes and decided to go for one in my Nigella Lawson book How to be a Domestic Goddess which was a present a few years ago and I love looking at but must admit I‘ve hardly tried out any of the recipes. I found the chutney recipe by accident after drooling over some of Nigella’s dessert ones yesterday morning. But I only made a small batch of her apple chutney just to be on the safe side in case I decided I didn’t like it much. It’s a surprisingly cheap recipe really as I had the impression that most of the ingredients in Nigella’s recipes were fairly steep – organic this and organic that. Admittedly she did ask for some chilli peppers which I didn’t have and instead I substituted a couple of teaspoons of mild chilli powder. I just hope I didn’t make it too hot as DJ’s tolerance for spicy food isn’t great – he‘s a korma man whereas I‘m about madras level I think.

The method was surprisingly easy too. Basically you just get all the ingredients (sugar, chopped apples, chilli, cider vinegar, ginger, ground cloves, black pepper etc.) and shove them in a pan, bring the mixture to the boil and cook over a medium heat for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. The only slightly tricky bit is that – as with the brewing we did – you have to get some jars and sterilise them thoroughly before you put the chutney in to prevent your nice mixture getting contaminated by mould or other nasties. I just nicked DJ’s brewing sterilising powder, chucked a couple of teaspoons of it in a bowl of warm water (make sure you sterilise the bowl sides too) and then put the lids and jars in there for at least 10 minutes before rinsing them with clean water.

Luckily I’d – for once – had the foresight to rescue a few pickle and jam jars from the recycling box and give them a good wash, because otherwise I suppose you’d have to go out and buy/borrow brand new jars and they’re not always that cheap or easy to get hold of unless through the internet. One problem, however, with recycled jars is that the vinegar in chutneys can rust metal lids. You’re meant to put waxed circles on top but I’ve used a couple of layers of grease-proof paper instead, so will have to see if that works well or not….

Mmm…have just had a taste and it’s surprisingly good actually. A little on the spicy side definitely and mine is brown and not green like the pic in the book because I substituted brown sugar for Demerara, but it’s good. Very gingery and just a bit like a fiery Branston pickle….! Watch out Premier Foods! x

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