Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Fresh tomato chutney

Autumn is definitely the time to start thinking of stockpiling food for the cold months. It's harvest time and a good opportunity to use up any excess fresh produce. I eat a lot of tomatoes - at least 500g a week - but an unexpected windfall from a veg box scheme meant I needed to use them up fast.

I've made this a few times and it always turns out well - it's simple to make and doesn't require a huge preserving pan or a thermometer. Because it is a fresh chutney, it will only keep for 6-8 weeks, so keep it in the fridge.

What you need:
250g finely sliced red onions
500g very ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped (including skins and seeds)
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2cm/1in piece of ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
125g muscovado sugar
75ml red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds

What to do: 
Prepare all the vegetables and put them in a big, heavy, non-aluminium pan. Add the sugar, vinegar and spices. Bring the pot to simmering point over a medium hob then let it simmer gently for an hour. Stir regularly. While it's cooking, sterilise a couple of jars.*

After an hour, most of the liquid should have evaporated. Now bring it to the boil to get rid of the rest of it - the mixture should turn thick, with an almost jam-like consistency. Don't take your eye off it at this stage. When it's thickened, take it off the heat and spoon carefully into the jars. Let it cool completely, then put the lid on the jar and pop it in the fridge.

Cook's tips:
Feel free to vary the spices. Fresh chilli (just one small one, or 1/2 tsp of powdered) will add some heat. Paprika also works well. If you haven't got mustard seeds, use 1/2 tsp of Colman's English mustard powder. I've also experimented with a couple of star anise, but it's a good idea to try and find them and take them out before bottling.

* To sterilise jars, wash well with hot water then dry out in the oven at 100-120C for half an hour or so. Bottle the contents while the jars are still hot.