Mrs 54’s Autumn Chutney


Last year I made chutney and gave several jars of it away as presents. A number of people have since asked me for the recipe but, because I am so useless when it comes to putting things in the post I thought it would be best to post it here.

 The recipe is based on one from a Sarsons preserving booklet but has been tweaked out of all recognition over the years. The most recent innovation is grating vegetables instead of chopping them (small children tend to object to lumps!) we’ve also increased the cooking time as grating it tends to make it runnier…


450ml malt vinegar

675g green or red tomatoes chopped small

450g cooking apples (peeled and grated)

225g onions (peeled and grated)

2 cloves crushed garlic

7.5ml  (1.5 tsp) salt

100g sultanas

2.5cm fresh root ginger (grated)

400g muscavado sugar

1tsp  Allspice

1tsp Turmeric

½ tsp mustard powder

5-6 cloves (crushed)

5-6 peppercorns

½ tsp Nutmeg



Place all the ingredients except the sugar in a large saucepan or preserving pan. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 30 minutes or until the quantity is reduced by 1/3 and the vegetables are soft and pulpy. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved, then simmer, stirring occasionally for about 1 hour until the chutney is a thick pulpy consistency or with no watery liquid noticeable on the top of the chutney.

 Pour into warm sterilised jars, seal, label and store for 3 weeks (or 2 months if using green tomatoes) before use.

Plum Crazy

On the way home the other night I decided to investigate some glimpses of yellow and red in the hedgerow. I pulled up in a little layby and checked out what looked like fruit to discover that I hit a goldmine of “cherry plums”. Cherry plums are small plum tasting fruit that apparently can be used in much the same way as cultivated plums and being slightly sharper are ideal for jam making.

I managed to fill the only container I had with me which was a “car bin” fortunately empty as a result of some uncharacteristic car tidying by me the day before…so I have a litre and a half of cherry plums and some plans for using all the glass jars that currently clutter up my kitchen cupboards…just needs a quick trip to Lakeland for the wax circles and maybe some plastic…maybe some dinky little jampot cloths…

Dead Time:M40

Didn’t make it to work today, instead spent almost 4 and a half hours in a traffic jam on the M40, most of which was spent covering a distance of 5 miles – so I phoned in and took the day off – I gave the Brownies to luscious Lulabelle, the other bag was to go to the ladies at Spider’s pre-school but I didn’t get back until 1pm.

I was cursing myself for having removed my book from my bag in a misguided attempt to carry less junk around – at least I had the radio to keep me company and a Toddler cookbook which I was taking to lend to a colleague. Got back home just in time to see the wicked witch of the west taking photographs of the drive…looks like we are in for a boundary dispute, fun, not !

So headed off to Stratford, my feel good town as having found the bank statement on the mat I really needed cheering up…

It has not been a good day but at least we all came home in a Christmas mood

It seemed like a good idea at the time

Have you ever looked at an illustration in a recipe book and thought, that looks easy, that looks yummy I’ll give that a go? Have you ever been seduced by the name of a recipe. If so, then may I introduce you to Tessa Kiros Rosehip jam…If you go down this road then please learn from my mistakes.

One of the joys of this time of year is the potential for foraging. If you are that way inclined then there are all sorts of ingredients hiding in hedgerows waiting to be used.

I have been desperate to do something with rosehips for over 12 months now, since reading in our village’s monthly news letter some reminiscences about life in the early 20th century when village children would get paid for collecting rosehips from the hedges.

I was not brought up on rosehip syrup but I love the images it conjures up. Sweet smelling and decadent, memories of Turkish delight and syrup drenched baklava. I couldn’t think of a use for rosehip syrup in our house but Jam, well that’s a different matter. The Toddler would live on jam sandwiches given the choice.

The illustration of the Rosehip Jam in “Apples for Jam” is delightfully old fashioned and the jam itself shines out from the page like rubies (if they’d been crushed and marinaded in twice their weight in sugar). The recipe is straightforward enough rosehips, water, lemon juice and sugar. Pick 200g of rosehips, freeze them if you are not going to use them immediately. When you are ready, cut the rosehips in half and scoop out the seeds…simple

If you try and cut a frozen rosehip the knife has a tendency to slide off the hip cutting a sliver of rosehip off, alternatively either the knife bounces off completely or the hip pings away from the knife and to the otherside of the kitchen. If you leave the hip to defrost then ease of cutting is sacrificed to loosing some of the rosehip pulp whilst extracting the seeds. Whichever method you choose, removing the seeds is a very sticky experience and you end up with itchy seeds everywhere. Best result was obtained from freshly picked rosehips, prepared as soon as you get them home.

Before I was halfway through I’d had enough. You are talking some 40-50 hips total, it gets quite tedious all that scooping. So I simply smashed the rosehips (well it works for Hugh Fearlesslyeatsitall !) and left them to soak in the pan. If you opt for this method then you need to put your cooked pulp through a jelly bag, otherwise you end up with teeny tiny bits of seed hair in your jam…something I didn’t find out until much much later.

The smell in the pan however almost makes up for the hassle, it has a lovely general fruity smell, similar to rhubarb cooked with sugar. The resulting jam is very very sweet and as yet I haven’t been able to persuade anyone else to try it. Toddler is suspicious of things that don’t come from the supermarket and admittedly he does have reason to be suspicious as Mummy has form for weird combinations aka the minty cream cheese pea pop…(from The Toddler Cafe).