The ale in this seasonal plum and apple chutney adds some extra depth to the flavour.
Homemade chutneys and pickles are really easy to make and they taste fantastic. It's a great way to preserve seasonal fruits and vegetables. Especially when you have a glut.
Make in the autumn and the chutney will have had time to mature for Christmas making it an ideal foodie gift
I make this plum and apple chutney when my plum tree gives me a good crop, which sadly isn't every year as it is planted in rather an exposed plot. Although chutneys and pickles can be eaten as soon as they are made most taste even better if you leave them to mature for a few months.
After Christmas I often make my fruity Chutney which is great for using up left over dried fruit from a Christmas baking spree and tastes surprisingly like a well known brand of pickle. Then later in the year I make Mr B's award winning rhubarb chutney which is great made with the thicker later stems of garden rhubarb as the season progresses. You might have guessed we love chutney in our house!
Ingredients for this chutney
Plums – I used Victoria plums from my tree. Use any variety of plums but bear in mind that the colour of the chutney will vary dpending on the plums used.
Apples – I used Bramley apples from my tree. This cooking apple variety breaks down when cooked producing a smoother chutney. You can also use dessert apples but they will hold their shape more, thus producing giving the chutney more texture chutney. Make sure they are cut into small dice you do not want large pieces in the chuteny.
Note: the recipe states a prepared weight of fruit, ie the weight of the fruit after stoneing the plums and peeling and coring the apples. So you will need to start with more fruit to allow for wastage.
I do this because it is the most reliable way of ensuring you get the right amount of fruit to vinegar and sugar and thus ensure that the preserve will last. This is especially true when using home grown fruit which might not be as perfect as those from the shops.
Ale – I used a pale ale. A darker ale will have a more intense flavour and will produce a darker chutney.
Sugar and Vinegar – are what are used to alter the sugar concentration and ph of the chutney to preserve it. I use golden granulated sugar as that is what I always have in the cupboard but white granulated sugar can also be used. Brown sugars will affect the overall flavour which I think is just right as it is. But it is up to you if want to experiment with different sugars but I would avoid dark brown sugar as I think this will completely over power the flavour of the fruit.
Cider vinegar from apples seemed the obvious choice for making this chutney but you could also use a while wine vinegar without altering the flavour dramatically.
Flavourings – Onions, a bay leaf, cinnamon and ginger give extra flavour details to the final chutney.
Making chutney is actually very easy. First the onion is cooked with the sugar and vinegar then the fruit is added and cooked until soft.
Finally the ale and other flavourings are added to the pan before simmering until the chutney is reduced and thickened.
Stir occasionally to begin with and then more frequently as the cooking time goes on to prevent the mixture from burning on the base of the pan. The chutney is ready, when you are able to draw a spoon through the mixture and briefly see the base of the pan.
Expect it to take about an hour of gentle simmering but it may take a little longer. Don't be tempted to turn up the heat and hurry the process as it will likely catch and burn on the base of the pan.
All you need to make the chutney is a large pan and a wooden spoon. A preserving pan is ideal as they tend to be wider than a regular saucepan. The chutney therefore is shallower in the pan and moisture has a larger surface to evaporate from and so the chutney will reduce quicker.
A long handled wooden spoon is useful as you need to stir the chutney frequently and it tends to split and splatter especially towards the end of the cooking time.
Once the chutney is made you will need jars to pot it in. These must be sterilised. The chutney should be poured into the hot sterilised jars as soon as it is thickened. Fill to the top of the jar and pack down to avoid any air bubbles (which might cause the preserve to spoil). Screw the lids on immediately as this helps a vacuum to form as the chutney cools down
Do I need a water bath to make the chutney?
In the US and some other countries, it is common to use a water bath after potting, while this is necessary with some preserves especially low sugar or low acidity preserves, it is not common practice in the UK. This recipe follows the UK style of preservation which relies on acidity/ sugar concentration to prevent spoilage and is a method of preservation that has been used for centuries.
Serve the chutney with.....
The flavours go really well with cold chicken, pork and turkey. This is an ideal Autumn preserve as the flavours will have mellowed and be at their peak in time for serving over the festive period.
The rest of the year, it is perfect to serve with pork pies, cheese or cold meats in ploughman's style lunch.
Or slather in a ham or cheese sandwich for a perfect picnic/ lunch.
How long will the chutney keep?
The chutney will keep for at least a year unopened if stored in a cool dark place. It will often keep longer and be edible for more than a year but the flavours will start to deteriorate after around 12 months.
Once open keep in the refrigerator and use within 12 weeks.
Step by step how to make plum and apple chutney
How to sterilise jam jars
- Wash the jars in warm soapy water and rinse well. Do not dry.
- Place the wet jars on a tray, heat the oven to 140℃ (120℃ fan)/275°F /gas 1 and put the jars in the oven to dry completely.
- Sterilise the lids (and rubber rings if using Kilner style jars) in a pan of boiling water for 5 minutes.
I always sterilise one or two more jars than I think I will need, to ensure I have enough.
Plum and apple chutney
- preserving pan or large open saucepan
- long handled spoon
- jam jars and lids
- 650 g onions chopped
- 500 ml cider or white wine vinegar
- 400 g golden graulated sugar
- 750 g plums stoned (prepared weight)
- 750 g apples peeled and cored (prepared weight)
- 300 ml pale ale
- 2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- Place 650g (4cups) chopped onions, 500ml (2¼ cups) vinegar and 400g (1⅚ cup) sugar in a preserving pan or large saucepan and bring to the boil stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, stone the plums and chop. Peel, core and chop the apples weighing so that you have 750g (1lb 10oz) each of the prepared fruit.
- After 20 minutes simmering, add the apples and plums to the pan, return to a simmer and cook for another 20 minutes.
- Add 300ml (½pt) ale, 2 teaspoon salt, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 bay leaves and 1 teaspoon ground ginger. Bring to a gentle boil and cook uncovered until the chutney has reduced and thickened. Stir occasionally to begin with and then more frequently as the cooking time goes on to prevent the mixture from burning on the base of the pan. The chutney is ready, you will be able to draw a spoon through the mixture you can briefly see the base of the pan. Mine took about 1 hour.
- Spoon into warm sterilised jars Once the jars are cold, place in the fridge for about 3 weeks before eating for the flavour to mature.