Monday, 19 November 2012

Delicious Dower House Chutney

Clarence House
I've been thinking about dower houses - those 'spillover' buildings where the widow of an estate-owner (the dowager) was usually dispatched on the death of her husband, to make way for the new heir. Clarence House in London was used as the dower house for Buckingham Palace when Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, moved there in 1953 after she was widowed. There's a dower house on the estate at Swallowcliffe, where Kate and Edward have been living since their marriage. When Edward's father dies, he and Kate will move into the main house and his mother will take their place in the
Dower House. Somehow I feel she won't retire gracefully and make life easy for Kate when she takes over the running of the Hall.

I haven't started writing yet, or even planning in much detail, so I'm busily looking for displacement acivities and distractions. Making Dower House Chutney feels vaguely productive, especially at this time of year when plums and apples are plentiful. (I suppose the recipe name must have come from a dower house with lots of fruit trees.) This chutney will make a great Christmas present, though it needs 2 - 3 months to mature. Eat with cheese and cold meats, and add a spoonful to your gravy for a lovely fruity taste.

You need:
11/2 lb (700g) dark-skinned plums - Victoria's if you can get them
2 lb (900g) sour green cooking apples, peeled and cored
8 oz (225g) tomatoes, skinned by soaking in boiling water and coarsely chopped
8 oz (225g) onions, peeled and cut into chunks
1 lb raisins
4 oz (110g) preserved ginger in syrup
6 - 8 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 lb (700g) demerara sugar
2 tablespoons pickling spice, tied in a square of muslin
1 pint (570 ml/3 cups) malt vinegar

A preserving pan or large saucepan
A square of muslin
8 jam jars, sterilised in warm oven

Halve and stone the plums, cut them into rough chunks and put in the pan with the roughly-chopped skinned tomatoes. Peel, core and quarter the apples and whizz them in a food processor with the onions, preserved ginger and raisins. Add these to the pan with the chopped or minced garlic, and stir in the sugar, vinegar and salt. Lastly, add the pickling spice tied up in a square of muslin.

Cook the chutney very slowly for about 1 1/2 hours. You want most of the vinegar to evaporate, so that when you draw a wooden spoon through the chutney, it doesn't immediately fill with liquid. This is about right:

Fill the warm jars, screwing on the lids when the chutney has cooled, and leave for about 2 - 3 months for the vinegar taste to mellow.

No comments:

Post a Comment