making spiced damson chutney
This 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.
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)
- 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.