Meal Type: Accompaniment
Cook time: 4-7 hours
A ‘hands-off’ approach to cooking chutney – cook long and slow in the simmering oven of your Aga range cooker.
This delicious chutney can be adapted to suit your tastes – substitute pears for plums or adjust the spices to your liking. I add a chilli for a little kick but this is entirely optional! The recipe makes approximately 4 jars – it is easily doubled if you have a glut of fruit and want to make a bigger batch!
- A large, deep non-reactive pan that fits in Aga range cooker ovens. A preserving pan or large non stick casserole is ideal.
- Glass jars with vinegar-proof lids
- A muslin cloth
Wash and prepare the fruit: cut out any blemishes, peel, core and chop into small chunks. Peel and dice the onions. Add to a large, deep pan that fits in your Aga range cooker's ovens. Finely slice or crush the garlic, grate the ginger and finely dice the chilli (discard the seeds). Add to the fruit.
Chop the dates into small pieces and add to the pan along with the sultanas and mustard seeds.
Place the remaining whole spices (cinnamon stick, star anise, allspice and coriander seeds) into the centre of a muslin cloth and tie up the corners to make a secure ‘bag’. Add this to the pan.
Sprinkle the sugar over the fruit and spices and pour over the vinegar – stir to combine. Place the pan on the simmering plate and slowly bring to the boil, stirring whilst the sugar dissolves. Simmer for 5-10 minutes to ensure that everything is hot and bubbling then transfer to the simmering oven (no lid).
Leave the chutney simmering gently for 4-6 hours. Timing will vary according to ripeness of fruit etc.. Check from time to time and give a good stir. The chutney will gradually thicken and darken although it will probably need a quick blast of heat to evaporate the last of the liquid – when it is ‘almost’ there, move the pan to the floor of the roasting oven for 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure it doesn’t burn. It will quickly thicken and is ready when you can draw a wooden spoon through the chutney and see the base of the pan for a few seconds before the mixture runs back.
Remove the muslin bag and pour or spoon the chutney into warm, sterilised jars and seal whilst still hot. Store in a cool, dark place for 3 months before opening.
Aga range cooker tips:
- Why cook chutney in the simmering oven, rather than on the top, when it takes longer? This is true and you can indeed cook this chutney on the hotplates if you prefer (simmer for 1-2 hours). However, if you have a traditional model of Aga range cooker, this may lead to heat loss from the ovens – as the lids will be up for a long time. It also means you have to stand and stir – if the chutney is in the oven, you are free to do other things!
Also – the strong vinegary smell created by a simmering pan of chutney can be quite overwhelming. Less so if cooking in the ovens!
- Sterilising jars in Aga range cookers... Wash your jars thoroughly in hot, soapy water. Place the in a ‘fits on runners’ roasting tin or tray and place in the simmering oven for 20 minutes. Fill whilst warm.
This fun family recipe has been scribed and tested by community member Antonia, who is a hard working mum with two boys. Her recipes are trialed in her much loved Aga range cooker and devoured by her family, allowing Antonia to provide accurate tips and advice on how to make the dishes a success! Go check her work out! She is a country girl, happily surrounded by an excitable Lab, her dear husband, two boys and the Cotswolds.