I am a huge fan of homemade jams, jellies and chutneys and I love my weekend afternoons pottering in my kitchen stirring a huge vat of preserve, warming jars, bottling, sealing and making pretty labels. I find the rituals of preserving calming and satisfying, therapeutic and meditative, after a tough week at work I decide to “preserve” and look forward to my trip to the market to see what is on offer, in season and looks the perfect fruit of vegetable to jam, jelly or chutnify. As a result all my friends save jars for me and I have a cupboard with more jars of chutney, marmalade, jelly and jam than I can ever eat.
For the perfect chutney you need good vinegar. There are special pickling vinegars in the supermarket, but they are twice the price of normal malt vinegars and I prefer to make my own with spices that I like (or have been in the cupboard for sometime and need using up).
Pickling Vinegar – for one pint
1 tsp Coriander Seeds
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Peppercorns
3 dried red chillies (or more or less to taste)
Place spices into a pint bottle of malt vinegar*. This quantity should fit into a full bottle without having to pour any of the vinegar away. Seal, give a good shake and leave to infuse for a month or more then use in chutney
* I use Supermarket own brand malt vinegar – Once the spices have been added I can tell no difference from a branded label. The economy / basics ranges are by and large a false economy as they are very very harsh.