Christmas Chutney 

Okay, here we go. The most popular recipe in my Christmas repertoire. My mother’s been making this since November 1990 when she brought herself a copy of Delia Smith’s original Christmas book; and now, twenty six years later, I make it. From my own copy. Brought in the charity shop at the end of the high street in my old hometown of Southend on Sea. A lot of my cookbooks have come to me this way, via charity shops. 

When preparing the fruit and onions for this, it is best to have either a food processor or a mini chopper to hand, because they all need to be finally chopped. No-one wants to chop a tonne of dried fruit by hand, unless they have the patience of a saint. If you’re unsure about how this is going to taste, think, and I’m quoting my cousin’s husband Ian here, “It’s like Branston Pickle, but much better.”

This is an excellent addition to any spread at Christmas, any time of year frankly. Mum used to make this for Christmas bazaars at my school, and my younger brother’s too, as well as her boiled fruit cake. I remember when I got to my last Christmas at school, my Home Economics teacher Mrs Allen asked my mum for the recipes so she could continue making them.

Christmas Chutney – adapted from Delia Smith’s Christmas and Delia’s Happy Christmas by Delia Smith

makes 1.4kg

570ml cider vinegar

50g salt (yes, really)

1 dessertspoon grated root ginger, or, if you don’t have any fresh ginger, 1 heaped teaspoon ground ginger

75g allspice berries tied up in a small piece of muslin

450g demerara sugar

350g no-soak prunes, finely chopped

275g each pitted dates and dried apricots, finely chopped

450g onions, peeled and finely chopped

Into a large saucepan pour the cider vinegar, add the salt, ginger and the allspice bundle, and bring up to a boil. Once boiling, stir in the remaining ingredients.

Simmer very gently, without a lid, for about an hour and a half, stirring from time to time so nothing catches on the bottom. You’ll know the chutney’s finished cooking when you draw a line across the surface and it doesn’t fill up with surplus vinegar straightaway.

Divide the chutney between sterilised jars, seal well with waxed discs and tight lids, and leave to cool down completely before labelling.

Once labelled, keep this in a cool dark place for one month to mature before eating with cold-cuts or cheese and crackers.

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