14/11/2009

Tomato and Apple Chutney

Tomato and apple chutney
tomato and apple chutneyMakes 5-6 340g jars or around 2kg (US: 4 pounds):

Ingredients:
1kg apples (any kind), peeled, cored and finely chopped (US: 2lb)
1kg red tomatoes, sliced thinly or chopped (US: 2lb)
350g onions, peeled and chopped into small pieces (US: 3/4 lb)
3-5 cloves garlic, skinned and crushed
225g raisins or sultanas (US: 1/2 lb)
350g demerara sugar (US: 3/4 lb)
1 tblsp turmeric
1 tblsp curry powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp salt 
850 ml malt or wine vinegar (US: 3 1/2 cups)

Method:
Put the apples in the preserving pan first, with a little water, and stew gently to soften. No need to do this if the apples are soft already,but if you use cooking apples or hard ones such as Granny Smith, it's worth doing.

While they are stewing, prepare the tomatoes, onions and garlic. Add to the pan, stirring, then put in all the other ingredients. Bring to the boil, stirring. Reduce the heat, and simmer for about an hour and a half or a bit longer, until there is a thick consistency with no extra liquid.

Put in hot, sterile jars and cover with non-metal lids.


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I looked at many different recipes for chutneys, wanting to make some using a bag of inexpensive tomatoes and some spare apples. Some of them required the tomatoes to be skinned first; I didn't want that extra step. Some of them insisted on malt vinegar, but that's quite hard to find in Cyprus. Some of them used more complex spices, or spiced vinegar. Some used mustard seeds in a muslin bag, but I don't have a muslin bag. None of them was exactly what I wanted.

But gradually I realised that there was a theme to all the chutney recipes: fruit, dried fruit, sugar, spices and vinegar. So long as the vinegar is good quality, it doesn't really matter whether it's malt or wine. I used white wine vinegar, but if you prefer a deeper colour, brown malt vinegar or red wine vinegar is fine. So long as one doesn't mind the (very soft) pieces of skin in the eventual mixture, there's no need to skin the tomatoes. And the spices come in so many possible variations that anything can be left out.

So I based my recipe on one I found in my ancient Good Housekeeping book (the version from the late 1970s), adjusted to take account of all the above, and tried it. The pan looked most unappetising when it had pieces of tomato and apple floating around in it at first, but gradually it took on a deep orange/red hue, and started to look like chutney. The taste is amazing. It goes extremely well with bread and cheese.

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