Spiced Damson Chutney and farewell to Summer

Anyone reading the previous blog was left with the promise that this Blog would include a recipe for DELICIOUS Damson Chutney, so, thanks to St Delia, here is:

Spiced Damson (or Plum) Chutney, makes about 6lbs

3lb damsons, 1lb cooking apples, 3 largeish onions, 3 cloves garlic, 2 heaped teaspoons ground ginger, 1lb seedless raisins, 1lb soft dark sugar, 1lb demerara sugar, 2 pints malt vinegar, 2 tablespoons salt, 2 cinnamon sticks, 1ounce whole allspice berries, 1 dessertspoon whole cloves.

Slit the damsons in half and remove the stones, putting into the preserving pan as you go.  Core and chop the apples finely (leaving the peel on), add to the pan and same with the onions.  Crush the garlic and add, followed by ginger, raisins, sugars and vinegar.  Sprinkle in the salt (yes, it really is 2 tablespoons, although I use slightly less) and stir thoroughly.  The cinnamon, allspice berries and cloves should be wrapped in a piece of gauze and loosely tied to form a little bag.  Place carefully in the centre of the pan.

Bring everything to the boil, lower the heat and simmer the chutney gently for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally and a little more often towards the end to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pan.  When almost all the vinegar has disappeared and the chutney has thickened to a soft consistency, it is ready.  (It will thicken more as it cools).

While it is still hot, pour into clean, warmed jars, cover with waxed discs and seal.  Enjoy with cheeses or cold meats!

Today seems to be the final day for the swallows; the first family groups set off on Sunday but we still have some that seem reluctant to leave and make that long, long journey.  We must have had about 30 assembling on the telephone line last weekend… They seem to have done really well this summer; I always feel priviledged that they return to us year after year and, somehow, miraculously find their way to the very same nests that they had the year before.

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