We just love this time of the year - the garden is at its most abundant, with fruits and vegetables ready to harvest virtually every day. The autumn colours displayed across the trees and garden shrubs, and the last of the late summer sunshine still offering enough warmth to make spending time outdoors a lovely way to pass an hour or two. Whether gathering in the garden’s bounty, tidying the beds ready for the winter, or simply sitting in the garden, at one with our surroundings, this is a special time of year.
All of that delicious harvest of fresh, home-grown fruit and veg can seem a little overwhelming at this time of year, when everything seems to need picking and processing at the same time, and some crops (tomatoes, for example) seem to refuse outright to ripen in time. That’s where chutney comes in - it’s simple and quick to make, and you can use pretty much any kind of fruit and vegetables to make it.
So in today’s blog post, we’re going to take a look at a few chutney ideas to get you started with your harvest. If you don’t grow your own fruit or vegetables, don’t worry - greengrocers up and down the country will be well-stocked at this time of year with plenty of locally-sourced fruit and veg, often at bargain prices for larger quantities that are perfect for making a big batch of chutney.
Let’s get filling those chutney jars!
Before starting out on a chutney-making extravaganza, it’s worth checking your supply of glass jars, to ensure you have enough for all the chutney you want to make. Whilst you can use any shape of glass jars, we do actually stocks some specific chutney jars, and other glass jars that suit chutney very well.If you are wondering what makes chutney jars different from regular glass jars, then it all boils down to their shape. Chutney jars are produced to look very similar to the iconic jars of the UK’s favourite kind of chutney (which will remain nameless, but you will certainly know what brand we are referring to). They’re a little thinner than regular glass jars, with a distinctive bulge at the top and bottom of the jar, and they also hold a little less than the jars that are typically used for jam.
What to put in those chutney jars?
Having established that you have plenty of glass jars to fill, it’s time to think about what kind of chutney you’d like to make. We love a good plum chutney, and this is one of the more traditional ingredients for chutney, but you can really let your imagination loose when it comes to chutney. Of course, if those last tomatoes just won’t ripen, then green tomato chutney is your friend, and we often add a splash of fresh chili heat to this recipe, to give the chutney a little extra punch.
We’ve stuck to the most common chutney varieties so far, but the world really is your oyster when it comes to making chutney, so we’re also going to give you some ideas on some more unusual fruit and vegetable combinations to use, to help you make some really stand-out preserves this autumn.
Let’s start the ball rolling with fig chutney - a dark, sticky chutney that is sensational with roast meats and cheese platters. If you’ve ever grown a fig tree, you’ll know that the fruits are abundant at this time of year, and there is always far too many to eat. If you don’t have one of your own, but you know someone who has a fig tree in their garden, don’t be shy about asking them if you could have a bag or two of figs - typically, the owners of fig trees are only too willing to give away a portion of their fig crop!
Another very tasty chutney to try is beetroot and ginger - granted, beetroot isn’t everyone’s favourite vegetable, but you may find that in a tangy chutney, you’re able to convert a few of your family who otherwise aren’t keen on the purplest of vegetables. Or how about a sweeter chutney using melons and pears - whether you’ve grown melons in a greenhouse or you’ve scooped a bargain at the greengrocers, this chutney is a very different beast, and will appeal even to those who aren’t so keen on the dark, brown traditional chutneys. And there can’t be a veg grower in the country who isn’t still finding courgettes in their garden, that seem to have grown from nowhere overnight - if that sounds familiar and you are looking for yet more ideas for how to use them up, why not give courgette and pineapple chutney a try? It might sound a bit weird, but trust us, this really is a delicious chutney!
Are you busy preserving all sorts of goodies from the garden? What new ideas are you trying this season? Do get in touch, via Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, to share your seasonal preserves.