22 September 2016
As another summer slips into the history books with the autumn equinox almost upon us, there’s a tang of vinegar in the air. The days are getting shorter and the nights cooler, and thoughts have started turning towards using the autumnal abundance of fruit and vegetables to make pickles and chutneys for the winter months.
In Turkey at this time of year people are busy preserving vegetables such as peppers, cucumbers, carrot, tomatoes, garlic, cauliflower and cabbage in vinegar and salt to make tursu, the ubiquitous pickle plate that adorns the dinner table.
When Lord Venal was visiting Knidos in August he was very taken with the local fig crop and was inspired to knock up a jar or two of his Fiendish Fig Chutney.
He helpfully explained the difference between a pickle and a chutney; a pickle involves raw vegetables preserved in a liquid such as brine, oil or vinegar, whilst chutney cooks vegetables or fruits in a sugary vinegar base.
Lord Venal hopes you’ll enjoy his spicy chutney with all types of cheeses and crackers.
Ingredients (Makes around 1.5 kg of chutney)
1 kg fresh figs
250 g raisins or currants
250 g onions
300 ml cider vinegar
200 g brown sugar
2 cloves of garlic
5 cm fresh ginger
one teaspoon coriander seeds
one cinnamon stick
one teaspoon cloves
one teaspoon turmeric
one teaspoon chili flakes
Assorted jam jars
Chop the figs roughly and remove any stems. Throw them into a large stainless steel pan and add the vinegar, chopped onions, garlic and spices (remember to grind the coriander seeds, break up the cinnamon stick and peel and finely chop the ginger).
Bring to the boil and then allow the mix to simmer, stirring occasionally, for half an hour or so until the figs are softening. Now add the sugar and keep stirring until it’s dissolved. Cook for another 15 minutes or so until the mix starts to thicken. Unlike jam, as soon as you turn the chutney off it stops thickening, so turn the heat off when you reach your desired consistency.
While the chutney is bubbling away, sterilise the jam jars in the oven at 50°c for thirty minutes. Spoon the chutney into the jars while still hot and put a lid on when it’s cooled down a bit. It’s ready to eat straight away, but, like most things in life, it improves with age.