The Self-Preservation Society

2nd November 2016 Recipes

Sorry but we just couldn’t resist the Italian Job reference in our title!

Since Autumn is pickling season, this article is actually all about the lovely job of making homemade pickles, chutneys and preserves. This is definitely the right time of year to be making these store cupboard essentials, and as well as being quite delicious and easy to make, they also make the most of a glut of seasonal produce such as courgettes, tomatoes, onions, apples, pears and plums that you might have sitting around.

But you might wonder if it’s worth the bother when you can easily pick up a jar from your local supermarket but once you taste the homemade version you will soon discover that they are miles better than the shop bought variety. As well as packing a punch on the taste front, you know exactly what goes into them and that there are no nasty additives or stabilisers lurking in there!

With the colder weather and the dark nights, this is the ideal time of year to do a bit of preserving of your own. Not only is it really satisfying but it is also really cheap and they will be just right by Christmas, ready to enjoy with cold meats, pâté, cheese or to really liven up sandwiches, pies or leftovers.

Let’s start with Chutney
The Indians have known for centuries that nothing livens up food like a chutney. Their chatni, (fresh herb and spice salsas), inspired colonial chefs to bring back their own version to Britain. Whilst our chutneys are quite different, made using vinegar and sugar to preserve the fruit or vegetables and then aged to mellow the flavours, the principle is the same. But do remember to use wine or cider vinegar rather than malt as its much less harsh and faster to soften.

Making chutney isn’t difficult but you must remember to stir the pan constantly to prevent the mixture from sticking and burning. Unlike jam, which is ready when it reaches a certain temperature or setting point, a chutney’s readiness is much more a matter of your own judgement. Actually the texture is the best indication of being ready, it should have a spooning consistency but do allow for a little bit of thickening as it cools and be careful not to cook it so long that the sugars begin to caramelise.

Taste the chutney after it is cooked to adjust the seasoning, but be prepared to be patient because all chutney needs time for the acidity to soften and the spices to develop in the jar. A really well-made chutney can last a year or more, but typically many can be ready to eat as soon as two weeks after being made.

Get Pickled
Pickling is actually closely associated with fermentation, which has the ability to unlock the potential of ingredients in quite extraordinary ways. In fact, many of our favourite foods and drinks rely on this reaction – cheeses, bread, cured meats, coffee, chocolate, vanilla, vinegar, sauerkraut, kimchi, gherkins, wine, beer, olives are all fermented.
With a little vinegar, salt, sugar and spices, you can elevate your aging vegetables into a savoury snack or zingy ingredient. Vegetables with a tougher skin like cucumbers and peppers do best in the pickling process, but root vegetables like carrots and radishes also work well.

We really hope that this article has inspired you to making some homemade chutney or pickle of your own and to get you started here is one of our own particular favourite recipes!

Ps Be sure to start hoarding jam jars because once you start making your own chutney and pickle, this is something you will want to do it again and again.  

Rogers Green Tomato Chutney

1 kg green tomatoes chopped
250 g cooking apples, peeled ,cored and grated
500g onions peeled and grated
250g dried figs and apricots chopped
300ml red wine vinegar
10g ground coriander
10g ground cumin
20 g mustard seeds
4 garlic cloves, crushed
20g root ginger grated
400g soft brown sugar
Seasoning to taste

– Put all ingredients in a heavy based pan. Bring slowly to the boil.
– Put into sterilised jars and label.
– Keeps for ages, but best to leave for a couple of months to mature.