Not sure about you, but I love a good chutney. I can quite easily leave dressings off my salads – in fact I prefer them ‘naked’ – but I have to have a chutney, pickle or a decent sauce with my cold meats and cheeses. It’s just not right to have a quality slice of ham or a good cheese without them being paired with a preserve that makes them really shine.
This is one of my favourite preserve recipes to keep stocked up. It’s also a really lovely coloured chutney, with a warm red hue. I only mention this because many chutneys are necessarily just ‘brown’ because of their ingredients – not that there’s anything wrong with a brown chutney – but it’s nice to have a jar of something a bit more colourful!
The recipe is best when made with British in-season damsons in autumn, but any plums will do at any other time of year. This a great use for any hard plums you’ve purchased that require further ripening at home. In late spring, foreign imports of very hard plums start to appear so it’s a great time to make a chutney, a jam or a compote.
I really think the nigella seeds add to this, so I would urge you not to omit them. However, if you are finding it difficult to obtain them, then black onion seeds could be substituted but they do impart a slightly different flavour. In this case I would only chop up one of the onions to balance the flavour of the chutney out better and crush up a quarter teaspoon of fennel seeds and add those in too.
- Large heavy saucepan
- Three empty, clean and sterilised 180-200g glass jars with lids
- Cutting board, knife, spatula
- Plums, stoned and diced – 300g (weigh after the stones are taken out)
- Carrots, peeled and very finely diced – 60g
- Red onions, two small onions, finely diced – 2 whole
- White wine vinegar – 100ml
- Red win vinegar – 90ml
- Chilli, a red mild-ish chilli, finely chopped (seeds and all!) – 1 long or 2 smaller chillies
- Fresh ginger, grated – about a 1 cm piece
- Dried chopped apricots – 80g
- Nigella seeds – 1 teaspoon
- Tomatoes, chopped – 60g (I used baby plum tomatoes)
- Salt – 1 teaspoon/5g
- Soft brown sugar – 300g
- Put the pre-diced/chopped plums, carrots, onions and both amounts of vinegar in your saucepan and bring up to a simmer
- Cook at this level (please no heavy boiling) until the vegetables and fruits start to soften a little – about 12 minutes
- Now add in all the rest of the ingredients and stir until combined
- Let it all simmer, stirring regularly (to ensure nothing catches on the bottom of the pan) until the chutney becomes sticky and unctuous
- While it is simmering, keep an eye on it to turn the heat down as the liquid evaporates to keep it at a gentle simmer – you don’t want it to boil
- This simmering stages takes one hour to get to the right consistency (providing you are simmering and not boiling the hell out of it!)
- Arrange your sterilised jars (see my recipe post for lemon curd about notes on how to sterilise jars at home) so they are close to hand and uncluttered by anything else (clearing a space and having them close minimises your chances of fumbling and burning yourself)
- Carefully tip the chutney into the jars, using a jam funnel if you have one. Please be careful not to burn yourself, although chutneys are not quite as lethal as jams and marmalades
- Gorgeous with cured meats or cold chicken, this chutney also is a good marriage for a strong cheese and can be stirred into sauces to make a rich accompaniment for game