First to say, it is so cold in this kitchen on this typical November morning of bright blue skies and frost that I am wearing my gloves as I make my first pot of tea.
Okay, that said, today will be the day for another batch of Conference Pear Chutney. I am very lucky that the tree in the garden consistently provides me with a very generous supply every year, and they are my favourite.
I have a love of preserving that is entirely down to my Mum and Dad. As Southern Italian farmers it is in their DNA (and so mine) that any excess be preserved. I can remember being very small, maybe 3 years old sitting at the kitchen table with my Mamma feeding tomatoes into long necked glass bottles (with the essential leaf of basil,) that she would then take outside to a massive vat of boiling water to be cooked for several hours. And then playing in the garden around the fire only to jump out of my skin at the occasional bang as one bottle would have a little air trapped in it and so explode. This way we would have tomatoes for sauce in the winter.
My first attempts at any thing like this was when I was about 11 years old and I made my first batches of Marmalade from the local markets end of the day sell off. A long way from the stuff bought in jars from the High Street’s International Supermarket, but far nicer and I was hooked.
Every year I make a variety of preserves and I hope to hand the love of it down to my daughters.
Anyway, this is my basic recipe, I encourage you to add and subtract ingredients as fits your palette, but have in mind that if you remove an ingredient, lets say the ginger, you may want to add another ingredient, perhaps another spice, so that the chutney will still have a good balance.
You will need to sterilize some jars so I am putting this before the recipe so you will have read it before you get all over keen and start chutney-ing-up what you have in the fruit bowl. Dull but essential to remove any bacteria, yeasts or fungi. Otherwise the chutney will spoil and that would be a shame and a waste.
Do NOT add cold food to hot jars, or hot food to cold jars otherwise the jar will shatter which is too dramatic.
Give the jars and lids a good wash in hot soapy water and rinse.
Boil the lids for 5 minutes in a pan of water (not the plastic ones) or else you can soak them in a dilute solution of something like ‘Milton’
Arrange your jars on a baking sheet but do not let them touch.
Make the chutney or jam 🙂
About 30 minutes before the chutney is done get back to the jars.
Pop them into the oven.
Turn the oven to 350°F/180°C/Gas 4 – no higher or the glass may crack or shatter.
Close the oven door and leave for a 25 minutes.
Set the tray of jars on a rack on the side.
Turn the heat off from under the chutney and let it stop bubbling.
Fill the hot jars with the hot chutney, I recommend adding a ladle of chutney to each jar in turn before attempting to fill the jar completely, that way if one is going to ‘pop’ it can do so and you only have a spoon of chutney wasted.
If you want to use the waxed disc now is the time to add them and then cover each jar with its own lid.
NEVER add cold food to hot jars, or hot food to cold jars-otherwise you will have a drama!
Leave chutney for about 10 minutes before tightening the screw tops on.
Conference Pear Chutney
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp coarse ground black pepper
1 large red onion
225 g or 8oz sultanas
225 g or 8oz raisins
170 g or 6oz demerara sugar
140 g or 5oz malt vinegar
110 g or 2oz balsamic vinegar
100 g or 3½oz crystalised ginger, finely sliced
1Kg 350 g or 3lb pears cored and cut into wedges
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp chilli flakes
Peel, core and chop the onion and pears.
Put all of the ingredients into a large pan on a low heat
Stir carefully with a wooden spoon, turning it all over and letting the sugar have a chance to melt down before you start to boil it.
Bring to the boil and give it one good stir. Reduce to a simmer and allow it to cook for 50 – 60 minutes, (this depends on your cooker) but you are wanting it to be thickened and dark looking.
Ladle into hot, clean, sterilized jars, cover and seal.
Label when fully cool.
Yields approximately 2.5 Kg or 6 lb of Chutney
I do love to use this Chutney in a number of ways,
but here as in these sausage rolls,
is a match made in heaven.
Can you see how happy the chutney and sausage meat are together 😀
I have made a Limited Edition Christmas Chutney. They will cost £5 per 500g/1lb jar.
You can order a jar or two from me directly, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me via my Facebook page