Preserving the Summer

Cook up a taste explosion with Jo Arnell's chutney and jam recipes...

For those of us who don't mind a warm, vinegary fug in the kitchen, chutney is a soothing thing to make. It's such a satisfying way of using up gluts of home-grown, or seasonal bargain vegetables - with the added bonus that it will make great presents later in the year, as chutneys are best left to mellow for a few months before using. Jams, on the other hand, can be eaten whenever you like - they last longer when full of pectin and sugar, but taste better when they're less glutinous and over-boiled. A fresher, fruitier, less firm set (with no added pectin) may not keep as long as a stodgy shop bought jam, but then it will be too delicious to keep for long anyway...

Sterilising jars...

There are various methods for this, but I tend to wash jars out with soapy water, rinse well and then place in a low oven (gas 3/160c) for 20 minutes. If you do this just before you start cooking, you can spoon the hot jam or chutney straight into the hot jars and leave to cool.

Beetroot relish

Beetroot is incredibly easy to grow and this is a simple chutney to make - tie a ribbon round the jar and give it away as a present if even the sound of beetroot puts people off. But even the beetroot haters (there are many I gather) should like this - there's no earthy undertaste, it's not too vinegary and the mustard seeds add a wonderful 'pop'.

  • 600g raw beetroot
  • 2 med onions
  • 1 large-ish cooking apple
  • grated zest and juice of an orange
  • 500ml red wine vinegar
  • 500g granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp salt

 

  1. Sterilise the jars as above.
  2. Cut vegetables into small dice (to avoid looking like a mass murderer, wear gloves when chopping the beetroot) and place in a large saucepan or preserving pan with all the other ingredients.
  3. Mix thoroughly and keep stirring while heating slowly to boiling/bubbling point.
  4. Turn the heat down and cook gently for around 1 - 1 1/2 hours until the beetroot is soft and the mixture has reached the right consistency (not too wet/dry - you can add a little more vinegar or water if too dry or continue bubbling if too wet).
  5. Ladle into jars and seal.

Carrot & almond chutney

The natural sweetness of the carrots is offset by the addition of chilli and the addition of flaked almonds gives this chutney a good texture with a bit of crunch. It's also a wonderful colour.

  • 1kg grated carrot
  • 2cm cube of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 lemon, grated zest & juice
  • 100ml honey
  • 800g granulated sugar
  • 550ml cider vinegar
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp crushed coriander seeds (use a pestle and mortar to gently crush, or improvise with a rolling pin on a board)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 100g flaked almonds

 

  1. Sterilise jars as above.
  2. Combine all the ingredients except the chilli and almonds together in a large bowl and leave to marinade overnight.
  3. Next day bring the mixture up to the boil in a preserving or heavy based pan and bubble for approx. 30 minutes. Add the chilli flakes and almonds and cook for a further 5 minutes or so.
  4. Ladle into jars and seal. This chutney may need tamping down a bit in the jars to get rid of air bubbles, due to its slightly stiffer consistency.

Raspberry jam

The ratio for more acidic fruits is to use equal parts of sugar to fruit, but for sweet fruits like strawberries and raspberries you may want to use less sugar. Raspberries have a medium pectin content and soft set jam made without added pectin will have a lovely consistency. To aid setting, add the juice of a lemon (if you're really worried, use jam sugar, which contains pectin). If you haven't got a preserving pan use a wide, shallow pan to make the jam in, as this will help boil off some of the liquid and help with the consistency. It will cut down the boiling time too and ensure a fresher flavour - the shorter the cooking time the better the jam. Gently warming the sugar in the oven before adding to the fruit will also cut the boiling time.

  • 1kg fresh (or frozen) raspberries
  • 800g granulated sugar (or jam sugar if you like a firmer set)
  • juice of 1 lemon (optional)

 

  1. Sterilise the jars as above and place a saucer in the freezer so that you can test for a set (or use a jam thermometer - I've never used one and love the saucer method, not least because you get to try the jam).
  2. Place raspberries in the pan and heat until bubbling.
  3. Add the sugar, bring back to the boil and keep on a 'rolling' boil for around 5 minutes.
  4. Test for a set by dropping a little jam onto the ice-cold saucer and pushing it with your finger - if it looks 'jammy' it's ready, if it's still liquid, boil for a few more minutes.
  5. Pour into jars and seal.

To read more of Jo's seasonal garden advice, plus cakes and recipes, visit www.hornbrookmanor.co.uk