Where there is a will there is a way

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hot Plum/Chilli Chutney and Mint/Chilli relish - Taste as you go

hot plum/chilli chutneyShane's the flavour maestro. I am just the chemist.

Shane slowly stewed on the stove plums, sugar, hot chillies from the garden, garlic, and a few other things. Cinnamon? The sauce was awesome. Hot chillies and deep red plum jam - we had it with cheese and crackers, with meat - it was really fun.

I followed this "Cottage Smallholder" recipe for the most part (recipe reproduced on this post, below) - but added a 1/2 teaspoon of cloves on inspiration. I don't love it actually. What I learned from Shane here, with sauces and spicing - is that you have to taste it as you add the spices and chillies. Don't taste it at the end of the recipe like I did! By then I thought I had already added far too much spice, which was sucky.

Later.... March 11. It turns out Shane did love this chutney in the end - it just needed to age a bit. I had followed the recipe - and added the half teaspoon of ground cloves on inspiration. So intuition can be good too. So...

GREAT RECIPE + paying attention and tasting throughout = best results

mint/chilli relish
Shane also blended mint (which grows prolifically) with chillies and some vinegar to make a wicked relish.

cottage smallholder's hot spiced plum chutney
from http://www.cottagesmallholder.com/hot-spiced-plum-chutney-recipe-6959
I had a yearning for a new plum chutney. Something fruity, spicy and hot. A chutney that could accompany roast pork, lamb or duck and be good with cheese sandwiches. A chutney that would inspire me to find infinite ways to use it.

We have a plum tree in our garden. It has large dark skinned plums. This year the harvest is enormous and during the recent high winds plums rained down on the driveway. Damaged windfall plums are perfect for making jam or chutney. I made a batch of our plum and tamarind chutney and then came up with this recipe. The lemon brings out the flavour of the plums and helps it to set.

It’s got a good chilli kick that comes a few seconds after the fruit bursts on your tongue. Wonderful and surprising. You can play with the amount of freah chilli used. Add them incrementally, letting the chutney absorb their flavour (about five minutes). I added the chopped dried chillies towards the end, a little at a time so as to get exactly the chilli sparkle that I wanted.

The chutney may look a bit sloppy when it’s ready to pot into jars. If you are unsure whether it has set enough, let a teaspoon get completely cold in the fridge – it thickens as it cools (about half an hour). If it is the right consistency for you, heat it the rest up very slowly and gently before pouring into warm sterilised jars with plastic lined lids.

If it’s too sloppy for your taste just bring it back to simmering point and continue string and testing every half an hour. Chutney is very forgiving – you can play with it a bit without ruining it. We always put a few jars away for vintage chutney – two year old chutney is to die for. Leave this chutney for at least a month to let the flavours to develop and mature.


1.45 kilos approx of sweet plums500 ml of white wine vinegar (don’t use malt or white vinegar)
4 chunky cloves of garlic sliced fine
175g of dried apricots chopped
600g of white granulated sugar
1 lemon cut lengthwise into 8 slices and sliced very fine (ours weighed 100g)
1 large pinch of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of coriander powder
7 red birds eye chillis sliced fine, include the seeds
1 tsp of salt1 tsp of allspice powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp of balsamic vinegar 

5 juniper berries 
10 black peppercorns
1 tsp of dried chillies, chopped fine with seeds 


The night before you want to make the chutney, put the plums in a large heavy bottomed saucepan/preserving pan and add the vinegar. Bring to the boil, cover and leave to cool until the next day.

Remove the stones from the softened plums. Return the plums and vinegar to the saucepan. Add all the ingredients apart from the sugar and the dried chillies.

Bring slowly to simmering point and add the sugar. Stir constantly until you are certain that the sugar has dissolved.

Bring the chutney back to a good simmer and, after an hour or so, add the dried chillis to taste. Stir every few minutes to stop the bottom burning (this is a labour of love after all).

Eventually depending on the strength of your simmer, the chutney will start to thicken (more like very thick soup than chutney) – mine took 3 hours, stirring every 10-15 minutes or so. Test for thickness by putting a spoonful in the fridge for half an hour and take the saucepan off the stove during the test.

When you have a consistency that you like, very gently reheat the chutney and when it reaches simmering point pour into warm sterilised jars and seal with plastic lined metal lids.
Leave for a month to mellow.

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