With places for the second ‘Egg Supper’ already booked up, it was time to start the preparations. I haven’t finalised the menu yet but do have lots of ideas milling around in the back of my mind. One of which is a deeply savoury pâté, meat yet to be decided, possibly game, accompanied by some sort of pickle or chutney. You simply have to leave chutney to mellow & mature to get the best flavour so I knew I had to get cracking and make something. A quick glance in the fruit bowl revealed a kilo of apricots leftover from a photo shoot last week, slightly past their eating prime. So apricot chutney it is, lightly spiced with ginger, cloves and coriander, and left to mature quietly in the back of the cupboard, whilst I keep on dreaming up more ideas for the early autumnal feast to come.
Spiced Apricot Chutney
makes 5 jars
1kg ripe apricots, stone removed & chopped
400g onion, chopped (about 2 large onions)
750ml malt vinegar
450g soft brown sugar
60g fresh ginger, grated
1tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 heaped tsp black peppercorns, crushed
5 cloves, crushed
1 heaped tsp ground turmeric
1 heaped tsp paprika
1 heaped tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tbsp salt
Tip the apricots, onion and sultanas into a large saucepan. Pour over the vinegar, stir through the sugar and bring up to a gentle simmer. Add the grated ginger, all of the dried spices and the salt. Simmer uncovered for around 2 hours, stirring from time to time, until the chutney is a deep colour and has thickened to a spoonable consistency. For a simple test to see if it has reduced enough, drag a wooden spoon across the surface of the chutney - it should leave in its wake a shallow furrow that holds its shape for a mere second or two.
Whilst the chutney is cooking sterilise the jars - this batch made 5 full-to-the-brim 370g jam jars. Give the jars and lids a really thorough wash in hot soapy water, then rinse with clean water. Allow to drain for a few moments before lining up on a baking tray and drying in a cool oven (100°C) for 30 minutes. Once they are dry they will be sterile so avoid touching the inside of jar or lid.
Carefully fill the hot jars with the hot chutney and seal tightly with the lid. Store in a cool dark cupboard for at least 6 weeks before eating. If your jars are squeaky-clean the chutney should easily keep, unopened, for a year or more.