Anyone who grows their own fruit and veg will know the joy of eating just picked fresh produce. And also the monotony of gluts..! Now is a perfect time of year to hole up in the kitchen for a preserve making session, with your own glut or seasonal produce which is cheap and plentiful.
A few years ago teams of volunteers planted an array of fruit and nut trees around Narberth. There are crab apples along the High Street, eating apples, pears, mulberry, sweet chestnut and cobnut trees in other spots like Bloomfield, the swimming pool, primary school, St Andrew’s churchyard and on the Town Moor. This free feast is there for the picking for everyone, for more information about these trees contact Geraldine Leach: 01834 450444 or g42leach [at] gmail.com
At Narberth Community Orchard, next to the allotments, there are around 70 apple trees, including Welsh heritage varieties, eaters, cookers and cider apples alongside pears, cherries, medlars, plums, a mulberry tree and cobnut, walnut and sweet chestnut trees. This stunning community asset will improve as it matures! If you’d like to know more about Narberth Community Orchard you can visit their Facebook page, Friends of Narberth Community Orchard – FONCO, or contact FONCO volunteer Amber Wheeler via email: amberfood [at] icloud.com
The sweet, vinegary, spiced tang of chutney sparks up a sandwich and stirred into a stew can really lift the flavours. With whatever fruit and vegetables you have, use a rough ratio of 4:2:1 of fruit&/vegetables: sugar: vinegar.
This recipe reliably makes a preserve that keeps for months – indeed it’s best to mature chutney, allowing the flavours to blend and mellow. Make a batch this month and it’ll be perfect for Christmas (only to be gifted to people who you know will appreciate it, not everyone’s a fan!)
1kg fruit – apples/pears/quince/plums/banana, etc…
500g veg – onions/carrots/marrow/tomatoes, etc…
500g dried fruit – sultanas/figs/dates/apricots, etc…
1kg sugar (brown gives a richer flavour, white just sweetness)
500ml vinegar (cider/white wine are milder, red wine/malt stronger)
1-2 tblsp spices – cinnamon and cloves will add a Christmassy note, or any aromatics you like e.g. mustard seeds/ginger/chilli/cardamom, etc…
1 tsp salt and pepper
You will need 6-8 500g jars, or to equivalent capacity if different size jars. If re-using old jars ensure the lids are vinegar proof inside, i.e. with a plastic coating and seal. Sterilise the jars and lids in a dishwasher OR wash in hot soapy water and dry at a low heat in the oven (120C/Gas 1). Cooked chutney should go into warm, sterilised jars.
1 – Peel any fruit and veg with a tough skin, cut out and discard any bruised bits. Chop fruit and veg into even sized chunks. Small chunks will cook quicker and may break down into a mush, larger chunks are more likely to retain their shape, mix and match to suit your preference. If you are using large dried fruit, chop these into small pieces.
2 – Place the fruit &/ veg into a large, high-sided pan, add the spices, salt, pepper and vinegar and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the fruit and veg softens (a knife/skewer slides in).
3 – Turn the heat down, add the sugar and stir to mix well, stir until the sugar dissolves. Simmer for 30mins-1hr until the chutney is thick, stir occasionally to ensure the chutney doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
4 – Use a clean jug or ladle to pour the hot chutney into the warm, sterilised jars and tighten the lid onto each jar. Store the chutney in a cool dark spot for a month or two, up to a year, once opened refrigerate and use in a month-ish.
This article first appeared in Narberth Breeze magazine.