‘Windfall’ – what a wonderful word; unexpected riches. In this case it happened quite literally. An almighty storm, where lightning flashed, thunder crashed, and rain dashed against the windows.
The next morning, we woke to calm and a crisp freshness, as if the world had been through the washing machine and was now gently flapping on the line.
A neighbour’s plum tree, its boughs heavy with fruit, had not withstood the battering, and spilled its bounty prematurely all over the road. ‘Chutney,’ thought I, and duly headed out with a colander.
The two kilos I purloined have barely made an impact on the piles still lining the roadside, but I like to think I have at least saved some of these beauties from going to waste.
Chutney is an exercise in delayed gratification – never my strong point – as you are supposed to leave it to mature for a few months. Hence, I can’t in truth tell you whether this adapted recipe - my first ever chutney – is any good. Roll on the grand unveiling at Christmas.
Spiced green plum and apple chutney
2 kilos unripe plums, stoned and diced
1.2 kilos apples, peeled, cored and diced
6 small onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
A good knob of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp mustard seeds
A healthy sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg
Ditto black pepper
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp mixed spice
0.25 tsp ground cloves
3 dried chillies, crushed
1.5 cups cider vinegar
0.5 cup red wine vinegar
3 cups dark brown soft sugar
In a huge pan, soften the onions, ginger and garlic in a teaspoon of water for a couple of minutes, and add the mustard seeds. Once the onions are translucent, pile in the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil.
Simmer, stirring occasionally for a good two hours until the fruit is soft and sticky, thick and gloopy.
In another enormous pan, boil about an inch of water with the lid on, then pop all your jars and lids in to sterilise. Fish them out with tongs, lay them out on a clean teatowel, then fill with chutney, topping with a layer of baking paper before screwing the lids on tight.
Leave to mature in a cool place for three-four months before enjoying with cold meats and cheese.