Cold Day, Comfy Kitchen

Bright morning sparkle of frost and the birds voraciously enjoying the food on the feeder…We woke early and happy, and decided, at a leisurely pace and over a couple of cups of tea in bed, when it tastes better than ever it does, that we would go to the market and buy some lovely fresh fruit to make the dark, jewel-like Christmas Chutney, which has become something of a tradition in our family.
I wanted all the ingredients for my most marvelous Christmas Chutney, I was after glossy plums, golden pears, big juicy mangoes, Bramley apples…We’ve eaten our home grown cookers and pears long since and none laid down to store this year, as the crop wasn’t terribly bountiful. The years seem to alternate, a really abundant year will be followed by a lesser one, it’s all circles and patterns, I think Mother Nature gets tired just like us…
We were just dazzled by the display the traders arrange, the fruit and vegetables are of such amazing quality, colour and perfection. And the variety! I sometimes wonder why we bother to strive so to grow our own when this is so cheap and effortless…(but I do know why really.)

So forgoing breakfast intending to hit the market early and run, thereby making the day elastic, we set off, with our old granny trolley in the back of the car. It’s no fun humping fruit and vegetables across town, it’s so heavy.
The recipe I use is from the BBC Good Food website, and it’s called “Laura’s Christmas Chutney” if you want to find it and make it…
It truly is unsurpassed in its depth, complexity and rich dark flavour, good with cheese and cold meats, it’s amazingly lovely.

I have Cyder vinegar, plums like jewels all rosy inside and gloss outside, rich dark Muscovado sugar, the layers of colour and scent will be so rich…And Mango, the fruit to eat in the bath when it doesn’t matter where the juices run…

The ginger, I buy fresh from the market earlier in the year, and do the laborious process of cooking over and over again in fresh water, finally adding the sugar before laying down to store for the Christmas Chutney. Beautiful syrup left over to trickle on some good quality ice-cream, oh lusciousness!

The cut plums inside are pretty, with delicate, muted shades, blushing and soft. The stones are quite hard to get out. but no hurry…I cut the pieces the size I would slice apples for a pie or a crumble, pale crescents…

Here are my spices in a beautiful pottery dish to show off their colours in their earthy glory. Mustard seed, cinnamon, crushed chili flakes, salt, ground cumin etc…

Here it all goes into the big wide stainless steel pan I like to use, onion all finely chopped, everything in at once, and now, the long simmer…a layering of flavours.

Half way into the simmering, and the kitchen is filled with an aromatic, rich scent, the fruits and the sugars and the vinegar melding into an entrancing pungency…The colours are rich and garnet, the scent not sweet, nor yet savoury, it’s unique and of Christmas…

And when it’s done, before it starts to stick… I turn off the flame and let the chutney cool awhile, before I enjoy the satisfying process of ladling it hot into my sterilised jars, and sealing them down. Even better, putting the labels on and the feeling of a job well done and enjoyed. Something to go in the cupboard against hard times!

All we need now is a hunk of bread, some really good mature cheddar, cool unsalted butter and we will find ourselves transported to the extreme of luxury!

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Comments 2

  1. Maggie I feel like turning your blog stories into a book to keep for years to come when I and you can sit in my /our old age turning the pages and looking back on these lovely times and memories. I just love reading them.

    1. Post

      Aw, thanks Trish, what a lovely thought…I just love writing them, and doing the pictures, and trying to capture times that I am so lucky to have…

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