Amongst all the daily chores, getting the business up and going and keeping Monkeychild amused over the summer hols, I managed to find time to do something I haven't done for years: make some chutney.
As we're now experiencing our first year's glut of apples in the orchard, I reckoned that a batch of chutney would be ideal and would make some thoughtful Christmas presents, as it'll have matured by then.
As the orchard's got a mix of cooking and eating apples, I decided to use some cookers - and you can see the size of these bad boys from the photo above. We've also got a couple of damson trees, so I thought I'd add these to the mix too and also a couple of courgettes that had growth spurted into marrows.
For you home preservers out there, the recipe that I always use is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's 'Glutney' as its a good one to tweak to add your own mods.
I find the whole process of peeling and chopping everything into small pieces very relaxing, especially when its all tipped into the pan. Afterwards comes the best bit of the prep: mixing the fruit and veg together with my hands - I don't bother with a spoon!
Next, the pan is popped onto the stove to come to a boil then as the heat is dropped down, its left on a steady simmer for the next 3 hours; with a regular stir to make sure the bottom of the pan isn't starting to burn.
The pan I use is a Victorian brass one that Mum used when I was little, to make jams and chutneys; so the whole process is one that's very familiar to me and reminds me of being a kid and hassling Mum in the kitchen!
To sterilise my jars I wash them on the highest setting in the dishwasher and just before bottling, I place them in a warmed oven for a few minutes and...
My next plan is to make damson gin - 1.5 litre bottle of own-brand supermarket booze already brought and waiting...