We have an excellent farm shop nearby and because my Saturday morning routine invariably involves a visit, I have got to know the owner very well. In his shop at the moment is the most wonderful selection of apples and pears, a huge assortment in fact and even a couple from quite rare varieties. But, aside from their genus, the one thing they have in common is the fact they have all been grown on English soil. Many of the pears are over-sized, yet full of juicy flavour and the children are relishing these home grown fruits. It's beyond me that the supermarkets are crammed with apples and pears from far-away lands when the very best is available right here in our own.
I absolutely LOVE chutney. So much so, I will gladly eat it with most any meal and sometimes I even incorporate it into my cooking if something needs a bit of a 'lift'.
This simple chutney, which I can't recommend highly enough, has been adapted from Marguerite Pattens' excellent Jams, Preserves and Chutneys Handbook, which is chock full of good, honest, no-nonsense recipes. Ours was made one rainy afternoon during the Half Term holiday, filling the house with the delicious scent of an English Autumn and, what's more, it tastes so good. If you dislike ginger, then simply leave it out.
Pear, Apple and Ginger Chutney
1 1/4kg firm pears (weight when prepared)
1 1/4kg cooking apples (weight when prepared)
750ml cider vinegar
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp pickling spices (mace, cloves, allspice berries, etc) -
tied into a small square of muslin
450g muscovado sugar
Wash, peel (if desired) and core the apples and pears. Chop the fruits and onion into smallish chunks and put into a preserving pan. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Bring to a simmer and cook till the chutney is the consistency of thick jam, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking, approx 1 1/2 hours.
Ladle into hot, sterilised jars and seal immediately.
Makes 6 x 1pt jars
As I sit in my kitchen, with the morning cold and grey outside, I can see five glistening jars of English Autumn on the counter top and am lamenting the fact I'm one down already!
Wishing you a happy, fruitful week ahead!