Spiced Damson Chutney
There are chutneys and chutneys, but this one is simply the best of all. It is something I couldn't live without, having it permanently on my shelf. I love it with cold cuts, with cheese, but best of all, sausages and jacket potatoes - dipping crisp, crunchy potato skins into this dark, spicy, deeply flavoursome preserve is one of life's great pleasures.
Makes six 1 lb (350 ml capacity) jars
This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book Three.
You've got two options here. One is to halve the damsons, slitting them down the natural line of the fruit and twisting out the stones – very tedious.
After that, crush the garlic and add that, followed by the ginger, raisins, sugar and the (remaining) vinegar. Then sprinkle in the salt and stir everything thoroughly.
Now wrap the cinnamon, allspice and cloves in the muslin (or gauze) and tie the top loosely with the string to form a little bag, which should then be tied on to the handle of the pan and suspended among the rest of the ingredients.
Now bring everything to the boil, then lower the heat and let the chutney simmer very gently for 2-3 hours, stirring it occasionally and rather more often towards the end to prevent it sticking to the bottom.
When almost all the vinegar has disappeared and the chutney has thickened to a soft consistency, do the channel test - if it is ready, when you draw a channel with a wooden spoon across its surface, it will leave an imprint for a few seconds without filling up with vinegar.
While it is still warm, pour it into the hot, sterilised jars (see below), filling them as full as possible. Cover each with a waxed disc and seal tightly with a vinegar-proof lid.
Label when cold and store the chutney in a cool, airy cupboard, leaving it to mellow for at least 3 months before eating.
Note: To sterilise jars, wash the jars and lids in warm, soapy water, rinse well (again in warm water), then dry them thoroughly with a clean tea cloth, place them on a baking tray and pop them in a medium oven, gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C) for a minimum of 5 minutes.
Add their contents while they are still hot.
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