Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Cheeky cheats chutneys

I was listening to Desert Island Disks with Tony Robinson (Baldric in Black Adder) who said, I can achieve anything as long as i stay relaxed. Who could argue with Baldic?

Well hopefully, having met Shep and Jo a couple of weeks ago - two of the nicest people you could ever wish to meet, and so damn good at what they do - I'm hoping that i can stay relaxed on the radio this afternoon and not sound nervous. 4.30, the Shep and Jo show, BBC Radio Devon. You'd be insane to miss it!

This month we're going to be talking cheeky cheats chutneys.

Now is the season to be thinking about chutney making ready for the winter.

If you've got a glut, or overgrown veggies such as marrows, courgettes or stringy green beans (runner bean chutney is a real west country treat, and absolutely stunning!) then this is what you need to do. If you haven't got a veg garden, nip down to your local farmers' market. Most of us small producers (I sell pork at South Molton farmers' market every Saturday) haven't put our prices up for years, and on the whole we're cheaper than the supermarkets. There are some real bargains to be had, especially for vegetables right now.

Okay, cheats chutney. Now traditionally chutneys are boiled and reduced for hours and hours, which uses stacks of electric (or gas) and you're losing half of what you put in. However, cheats chutneys takes about 30 minutes and you get out what you put in. I'm all for cheating.

Oh, by the way, the runner bean chutney is coloured with Turmeric, so visually it's vibrant and a heart warming colour to cheer you up on gloomy winter days, but also Turmeric is a natural digestive, so it easies digestion.

Runner Bean chutney
You will need:

4-5 onions, peeled and diced
900g/2lb runner beans, diced
68oz/1.5lb granulated sugar
900mls/1.5 pints vinegar of your choice, for example malt or cider
1.5 tbsp turmeric
1.5 tbsp mustard powder
1.5 tbsp cornflour

Put the onions and beans in a stainless-steel pan of salted water and bring to the boil, then reduce and simmer until tender. Strain through a non metalic colander, allowing the mixture to drain well. Tip the mixture into a food processor and mince or pulse until it is chopped and mashed, but not puree. Return to the pan and add the sugar and 720/1.25 pints of vinegar. Bring to the boil and boil for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the turmeric, mustard powder and cornflour in the remaining vinegar and add gradually to the beans over a low heat, stir until mixture has thickened. Return to the boil for another 15 minutes, then leave to cool thoroughly before pouring into cold jars and sealing.

Will keep for about 2 years.

Spicy Marrow Chutney

1.3kg/3lb marrow, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1cm/.5in cubes (about 900/2lb prepared weight)
450/1lb tomatoes, skinned and quartered
450/1lb onions, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
50g/2oz sultanas
1tsp ground allspice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
570ml/1 pint vinegar
680g/1.5 light soft brown sugar

Put the marrow, tomatoes, onions, garlic, sultanas, allspice and seasoning in a large stainless steel pan and stir in 425ml/.75 pint of the vinegar. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer until the marrow is tender. Remover the lid and continue to simmer to reduce the liquid. Stir in the remaining vinegar and the sugar and return to the boil, then simmer until the chutney is thick. Remover from the heat and cool thoroughly before spooning into cold jars and sealing.

Again, should last about 2 years.

It's all a very cunning plan...


  1. I hope you don't mind but I put a link to your blog and web site in my blog. I met you briefly last year at Arlington Court where I was demonstrating Hand Spinning, and you were selling your book and produce.

    I bought your book and now that I am back on my father's farm in Chile I have found it very useful! There are many things in it I would like to try, like making cider. I am glad I found your blog too, and only wish I had the time to take one of your butchering courses while I was in the UK. Maybe next time I am back visiting. And I think I will have to try the cheats chutney too!


  2. Hi Elizabeth,

    So sorry it's been so long to respond, my computer went through a stage of hating me and wouldn't let me post on my own blog. But it's behaving itself once more (I showed it who's boss!)

    Of course i remember you! Your father's farm in chilli sounds amazing. I'll sign up to your blog now and I'm really looking forward to following you.

    Simon x