making spiced damson chutney

October 23, 2009 at 11:00 am 13 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 *

Entry filed under: allotment tales, in the kitchen. Tags: , .

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13 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
  • 9. pauline wareham  |  October 14, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    Sounds wonderful and am about to try it, but it is better NOT to put the waxed disc in when using plastic-lined metal lids: the seal is better :~)

    Reply
  • 10. Tom  |  July 30, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    I am confused by the amount of vinegar to use. If you take the stones out by stewing in half a pint of the vinegar, do you add that vinegar as well to the stock pot so you cook for two to three hours in the the full 1.2 litres of vinegar? Or do you discard the half pint of stewed vinegar and just use the remaining 0.9 litres of vinegar? I did the former and have been cooking for 3 hours and it is still very liquidy.

    Reply
    • 11. Nip it in the bud  |  July 30, 2017 at 6:38 pm

      Hi Tom, I did what you did and added the stoned damsons in their stewed in vinegar. I tend to find most of the recipes I try on the runny side and as I don’t like to add more sugar to thicken them I usually ladle some liquid off for the last 30 mins of cooking. I then use it as a spiced sauce in cooking!

      Reply
      • 12. Tom  |  July 30, 2017 at 8:14 pm

        Ah ok. I’ve just switched off the gas 5 hours after starting cooking. It’s still runny and it is now slightly stuck to the bottom of the pan. I’ll try spooning off some of the liquid and simmer it for a little longer. Does adding sugar also help thicken it?
        Would you advise less vinegar in the future?

      • 13. Nip it in the bud  |  July 30, 2017 at 9:24 pm

        I’ve certainly experienced runny chutneys and burnt on bottoms on a number of occasions. The only chutney I ever made that went sticky just as the recipe predicted was one that seemed to have a tonne of sugar in. These days I always use a slow cooker (see the rhubarb and green tomato recipe here for more on that) and reduce any liquid by half. If I start it in the morning and let it simmer all day I can bottle it in the evening. I used to end up jarring up at midnight but don’t have that luxury now I have kids and it’s a lot less stinky cooking it slowly!

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