Tuesday, 20 September 2011

While I think about it...

Should you try your hand at making chutney, be warned that because you're cooking with hot vinegar, it will pong, and the smell is really pervasive so you'll need a window open.

The vinegars should be 5% vol. Anything stronger will drown all the other ingredients. Any weaker and it won't preserve.

Spoon or pour the hot chutney into hot jars.

You can quite happily add gin, vodka, whisky, or bourbon for flavour, but the long cooking time will drive off the alcohol so it won't help with preservation. Stirring a couple of tablespoons into each jar when the chutney has cooled is the way around that.

Don't use brass, copper or aluminium pans. The acid in the vinegar and fruit will dissolve some of the metal and taste very unpleasant. I found stainless steel just fine.

Mega-tips. It's fine to re-use old, clean jars. You can buy waxed disks to help prevent jam or chutney touching the lid. I've used greaseproof paper successfully.

Age it. Chutney really should be thought of as a long term preserve. The taste improves wonderfully if its stored in a cool dark place for 3 months.

Chutneys last - officially - for a year. Bear is still using a batch of chutney, piccalilli and pickled onions I made 3 years ago with no ill effects.

Have to admit I'm not that brave :)

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