Tomato and Chilli Chutney

I am psyching myself up for Christmas so brace yourselves for a deluge of edible gift ideas that will be headed this way….. A few years ago I was really strapped for cash right before Christmas so I had to get creative with cheap homemade presents. Everyone was delighted with their homemade biscuits, mincemeat and chutneys so I have been making them every year ever since and will share some of them with you over the coming weeks.

You can make this chutney as mild or hot as you like by adjusting the amount of chillies to suit your taste.

For those who have never ventured into chutney making territory before, cheap preserving jars are available on eBay, at Hobbicraft shops and online and a great UK website for supplies is Size wise I tend to use jars of roughly 180-225ml capacity.

I have a 5lt casserole pot with a heavy copper base which I use for chutney making so if you don’t have a preserving pan a good quaility 4-5lt saucepan/casserole pan will do the trick. Also, be aware your home will smell of vinegar for days afterwards so I suggest opening windows, whacking up the extractor fan to max and not having any washing drying indoors whilst embarking on chutney making! It really is worth all this prep so I hope I have forewarned you rather than put you off!

Tomato and chilli chutney

Makes about 1 litre of chutney

1.5kg vine ripened tomatoes
2 large red onions, chopped
600g brambly apples, peeled, cored and chopped
3cm piece of root ginger, grated
4-6 red chillies, finely chopped (seeds removed if you prefer a milder flavour)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
600ml red wine vinegar
350g light soft brown sugar
1 1/2 level tsp mustard powder
2 level tsp salt

Make a small cross in the bottom of each tomato and place in a large heat proof bowl. Cover with boiling water and leave for a few minutes. Drain, allow to cool slightly then skin the tomatoes. Chop and add to a very large preserving pan or heavy bottomed saucepan.

Add all the other ingredients to the pan and heat gently stirring until it begins to boil. Simmer uncovered until the mixture is thick. This will take around 2 hours and as it starts to thicken stir often so that it doesn’t catch in the bottom of the pan.

Half an hour before the 2 hours, wash the jars and lids in hot soapy water, rinse and place on a baking tray in a cold oven set to 140c/gas mark 1. once the oven has reached the temperature leave in the oven to for 10-15 minutes to sterilise the jars.

To test if the chutney is ready, draw a wooden spoon across the base of the pan – if you can see the bottom of the pan, it’s ready.

Spoon the chutney into the hot jars, seal the lids tightly and leave for at least 6 weeks to mature. They will keep for up to a year unopened – stored in a cool, dark cupboard. Once opened, keep refrigerated and use within 2 to 3 weeks.

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