Spiced Apple Chutney

We are definitely in ‘glut’ territory with late summer/Autumn fruits on the farm at the moment. There are apples everywhere! Yesterday a very kind, well meaning relative arrived at the kitchen door bearing gifts of…yet more apples! I smiled politely and took them, not wanting to offend, whilst thinking  ‘what on earth am I going to do with all of these?’ Of course, there is plenty to be done. For a start, chutney. The recipe I used was loosely based on that of the original Queen of cooking, Mrs Beeton. I made a few substitutions, and cut the quantities down. My version made 2 large jam jars worth.

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Ingredients:

500ml apple cider or pickling vinegar.

1kg peeled and cored apples

1 small white onion

250g sultanas

150g caster sugar (can use granulated)

150g soft brown sugar

Preferred spices – I used 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp spice mix.

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Other things to remember: Stainless steel pan, jars, wax lids, labels

Start by cleaning and sterilising the jars. I have a mix of ‘special’ preserving jars, and bog standard recycled jam jars. Wash in warm soapy water, rinse then place on a tray in the oven at 120C.

Next dice the apples and peel and chop the onion.

Place the apples, onions and sultanas into the pan.

Add the sugar and spice, along with the vinegar. Stir well and bring to the boil.

Allow to simmer on a medium heat for approx. 1 hour until reduced.

At this point you need to make sure you stir continuously to ensure the chutney doesn’t catch and burn.

Pour into the prepared jars.

If you are using wax sheets over the chutney, you can use more than one, overlapping to give a neat appearance.

Wipe around the inside of the jar with a damp cloth. This will remove any stray chutney and prevent the vinegar from reacting with the metal lid.

Stand back and admire your handywork!

Unfortunately, the chutney takes about a month to mature for around a month. You can eat it sooner if you really can’t wait, but it will taste much ‘mellower’ if it is left for a bit! Use within 6 months, but I doubt it will hang around much once you open the jar!

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Blackberry and Apple Crumble

As the nights are drawing in and the days  begin to become a bit chillier its time to bring  the comfort food recipes back out of hibernation.

Crumble has to be one of my top 5 ultimate easy peasy comfort puddings. Here on the farm, ‘traditional’ fayre is still order of the day, and there is nowt wrong with a good old fashioned crumble.

Apple crumble on its own is pretty tasty, but combine it with the early autumn tang of ripe blackberries and it reaches another level of yumminess!

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Brambles or blackberries are pretty easy to find. Most people will have some bramble bushes nearby, even in towns. I can remember doing it as a child around the mean streets of west London, and I often see people brambling along grass verges in town or around carparks.  Just make sure to pick those that are a little higher up to avoid picking up an extra ingredient -dog wee! In addition, if you take your little ones Blackberry picking they can tick off number 21 on the National trusts list of things to do before 11 and 3/4’s .

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We lucky enough to have a small apple orchard on the farm, full of 100 year old trees that still bear fruit yearly. Granted their offerings aren’t the sweetest but pour enough sugar on and they are perfectly edible! Eating apples are fine to use, as are cooking apples.

For this recipe I used

  • 6 apples (approx. 1kg in weight)
  • approx. 200 g of brambles.
  • 200g plain flour
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 150g caster sugar.

You can vary the quantities of apples, brambles and sugar to suit your needs and tastes.

First step: gather your ingredients, remove the butter from the fridge and allow it to soften. Preheat the oven to 180 (I’m using a fan assisted oven, so you might need to adjust cooking temp/time to suit your oven. As Mary Berry says, they are all different!)

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To make the filling

  • Wash, peel and core your apples, then roughly chop.
  • Place them in a saucepan and cover with a small amount of water. A couple of tablespoons should be adequate.
  • Add one or two tablespoons of sugar and leave to stew on a medium heat for 10-15 min, stirring occasionally to prevent them sticking to the pan.
  • Whilst these are cooking wash and pick over the brambles, removing any stems or leaves (or bugs!!).
  • When the apples have softened remove from the heat and add in the brambles.
  • Pour into a ovenproof dish ready for baking.

Creating the crunchy, crumbly topping.

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  • Cube the butter and then using your fingers rub it into the flour. This is a good time for little helpers to get involved!
  • You want the mixture to resemble coarse breadcrumbs.
  •  Do not be tempted to overwork the mix! You will end up with a stodgy, sticky thick layer that won’t cook well and will taste doughy. As soon as you have something that looks right, step away from the crumble!

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  • Top tip: Pour the crumble on top of the filling and don’t pat it down, leave it heaped.
  • Cook at 180C for 35-40 minutes, or until the crumble is golden brown.

Et voila!DSC_0512 (1)

Serve with custard or ice cream (or if your feeling gluttonous, both!).