Happy New Year!

Let’s hope 2012 bucks dreary economic expectations and ends up exceeding our wildest dreams.

Today I started a new tradition, to make a big batch of chutney at the beginning of the year which will last throughout it (vinegar being an excellent preservative); something new for the new year which could use up any odds and ends of dried fruit left over from the festive baking, or that would go well smeared ontop of some leftover posh cheese.  Chutney is another easy thing, put all the ingredients in a pan and simmer for a bit is basically what every recipe comes down to.

Apricot Chutney, from the Jams, Preserves and Chutneys Handbook by Marguerite Patten

22g/8oz dried apricots
600 ml/1pt white wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 lemon
2 tsps mixed pickling spices
450g/1lb cooking apples
450g/1lb light brown sugar
75g raisins
150g sultana
salt and pepper to taste

Pickling spices are a mixture of whatever spices you fancy or like best, I used chili flakes, coriander, peppercorns, cardamons, cloves and mustard seeds.  Wrap them up in a spot of butter muslin along with the rind of the lemon and the garlic cloves.

Cut up the apricots and put in a pan with the vinegar and pickling spice bundle and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Then peel and chop (or grate) the apples, and add to the apricots with the lemon juice and sugar.  Stir while the sugar dissolves and then add the raisins and sultanas (note, I used currants, because I don’t know the difference) and a good twist of salt and pepper.  Simmer steadily for a while, and if you find, as I did, that you’ve got too much wet, then boil it off for a bit at the end.  At this stage I always worry that the chutney is a failure, especially when the fumes from the vinegar come up and hit you in the throat, but I promise it settles down after it’s stopped cooking, and usually turns out fine.  Remember to remove the pickling spices before putting it in jars!

Yes I know it looks like mincemeat, but don’t put it in a pie

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