making spiced damson chutney

October 23, 2009 at 11:00 am 8 comments

damson chutney_spoonedThis Delia Smith recipe for Spiced Damson Chutney was recommended by a friend at my badminton club.  Brenda followed the recipe from Delia’s ‘How To Cook Book 3‘ and found a copy of the recipe at Delia On-line to send to me.  As usual I made a few adjustments: swapping guaze spice bags dangled down the side of the pan for powdered versions of the spices and suspending cloves inside a tea ball.  I still hadn’t re-stocked the raisin jar so, as with the Spicy Tomato Chutney, the raisins were replaced with dates. Delia recommends finely chopping the unpeeled apples and onions in a food processor but since I don’t have one I removed the apple skin and roughly chopped them.  Food processing ingredients seems to be Delia’s favoured method when preparing chutney, alongside cooking gently on a low heat for about 3 hours.  I often find simmering for this long results in a chutney with a soft jam like consistency regardless of how chunky the ingredients were to start with.  As the chutney thickens and the shades of purple darken you’ll end up with a near black smooth chutney not unlike the colour of a ploughman’s pickle.damson chutney cooking

making spiced damson chutney

3 lb (1.35 kg) damsons
2 heaped teaspoons ground ginger
2 small cinnamon sticks 1 heaped tsp cinnamon powder
1 oz (25 g) allspice berries 1 heaped tsp allspice
1 dessertspoon cloves 2 tsp cloves
2 pints (1.2 litres) malt vinegar
1 lb (450 g) cooking apples (no need to peel) peeled and chopped
3 largish onions
3 cloves garlic
1 lb (450 g) seedless raisins dates
1 lb (450 g) dark soft brown sugar
1 lb (450 g) demerara sugar
2 tablespoons sea salt

  • Remove the stones from the damsons – either cutting them in half and twisting the stones out or stewing them in 1/2 pint (275ml) of the vinegar to loosen the flesh.  Wear latex gloves either way if you don’t want purple stained hands.
  • Place the stoned damsons into a pan with handles at the top (I use a stock pot for all my chutney making)
  • Core, peel and chop the apples and finely chop the onions to add to the pot
  • Crush the garlic and add that, followed by the ginger, raisins, sugar and the (remaining) vinegar.  Sprinkle in the salt and stir everything thoroughly.
  • Add the powdered cinnamon and all spice.  Put the cloves into a tea ball and suspend into the mixture by tying with string across the handles at the top of the stock pot.  (Or a la Delia – wrap the cinnamon, allspice and cloves in a piece of muslin or gauze and tie the top loosely with the string to form a little bag to tie on to the handle of the pan and suspended among the rest of the ingredients)

cloves in tea ball

  • Now bring everything to the boil, then lower the heat and let the chutney simmer very gently for 2-3 hours, stirring it occasionally and rather more often towards the end to prevent it sticking to the bottom.
  • When almost all the vinegar has disappeared and the chutney has thickened to a soft consistency, do the channel test – if it is ready, when you draw a channel with a wooden spoon across its surface, it will leave an imprint for a few seconds without filling up with vinegar.
  • While it is still warm, pour it into the hot, sterilised jars, filling them as full as possible.  Cover each with a waxed disc and seal tightly with a vinegar-proof lid. Label when cold and store the chutney in a cool, airy cupboard, leaving it to mellow for at least 3 months before eating.  damson chutney jars *
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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mangocheeks  |  October 23, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    More culinary store cupboard delights. Is your storecupboard not overflowing yet?!

    I love the way you have improvised to hold the spice spoon up. Smart!

    Reply
  • 2. Jacqueline  |  October 23, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Nice trick with the tea ball! I m with you, I prefer to make chutney quicker and have a chunky chutney.

    Reply
  • 3. Ann  |  October 23, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    The colour of that chutney is gorgeous, I wanted to eat that spoonful in the picture!!! Glad I’m not the only one to adjust recipes.

    Reply
  • 4. Nip it in the bud  |  October 23, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    mc – yes! So I don’t feel at all guilty about getting through the jars so fast!
    Jaq – I’m not good at delaying gratification when it comes to any kind of chutney
    Ann – that’s good because it’s the one Graham said he’d like to swap :o)

    Reply
  • 5. Ann  |  November 17, 2009 at 10:37 am

    me again, just a quick note to say your chutney is absolutely delicious, Nicer than a really expensive one we got as a gift earlier this year Graham says!

    Reply
  • 6. Jon  |  November 17, 2009 at 10:38 am

    thanks for the chutney Nic. It tastes of christmas cake – lovely :o)

    Reply
  • 7. hannah  |  November 8, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Your chutney looks divine – I made a pear and plum one recently – and am eager to try it…..

    Reply
    • 8. Nip it in the bud  |  November 8, 2010 at 8:13 pm

      ooh, I bet your pear and plum one is lovely (looks like it was nearly Plum chutney judging by all the pear munching going on!)
      It’s always hard to hold back opening a new jar of chutney, especially when a cheeky taste from the pan before bottling reveals just what delights are in store :o)

      Reply

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