How to make a traditional apple & onion chutney
It’s that time of year again when the berries, and fruits are calling out for our attention.
Growing up on small holding in rural Surrey, I was raised producing these preserves year-on-year to store the garden’s produce. This recipe is adapted from a Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food recipe from WW2 and is commonly referred to by friends and family now as Chaldon Chutney after the village I grew up in.
The smell of this bubbling away on the hob brings back many happy childhood memories for me, and I hope that this recipe will allow you to make your own happy memories too.
The spices used in the recipe also show how much we were relying on the empire and the trade routes this allowed us access to, in contrast to the Dig for Britain island mentality that I remember understanding from history lessons.
Recently I’ve been using wind falls and other apples that have fallen, usually as they are slightly mouldy or have creatures living in them. Cut out anything that you wouldn’t eat raw. The full crop of apples near me aren’t ripe yet, but varieties and regions vary, so check.
If you’ve not got an apple tree or an orchard, there are still a few options around! Search for your local community one here. You’ll often see apples outside houses saying free to a good home, when their tree has had a bumper year. You can always forage for crab apples too – though as these tend to be smaller I choose to make jellies and butters rather than jams and chutneys out of these. (I’ll cover those shortly.) Lastly, not an immediate return, but why not plant a tree or two for the future? They have wonderful spring blossom, will provide a habitat and food source for many insects and birds, and supply you with apples a few years down the line.
- 3 pounds of apples, peeled and roughly chopped, they’ll mostly be mashed later. ( I tend to weigh after chopping.)
- 3 onions chopped (to about the size of a raisin)
- 12 ounces of raisins, chopped
- 2 tablespoons black mustard seed, crushed or ground (in a grinder or with a pestle and mortar)
- 2 tablespoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 pounds brown sugar – light or dark brown to taste – I prefer the richer flavour of dark brown.
- 1.5 pints of malt vinegar
- 15 or so half pound jam jars with a plastic seal on the inside of the lid – bare metal lids corrode over time.
Time needed: 3 hours.
- Add all ingredients into a big pan
- Bring to simmer and simmer for 2.5 hours
Around half an hour before the end of the cook time gently mash the apples (with a potato masher, or squash between a wooden spoon and a fork)
- Pour cooked chutney into clean pre-warmed jars
- Screw the lids on tightly
- Label once cooled
- Hide at the back of the cupboard
and enjoy at a later date. The vinegar mellows over time. I’m enjoying a 2014 batch at the moment and it’s beautiful.
- Enjoy with strong cheese and cold meats, pork pies and in toasted cheese sandwiches.
If you have enjoy this article and want to take it further join us on our September Forage and Preserves Weekend, you can also sign up to our mailing list, for more articles like this throughout the year.