Monday, January 23, 2012

MAKING APPLE CHUTNEY IN SICILY


Every autumn in Britain, I would make a batch of apple chutney.  For American readers, chutney is a kind of thick salsa which is, however, a preserve.  The word "chutney" comes from Hindi "chatni", meaning "strongly spiced" and it was the colonising British who began eating spiced mixtures, probably as condiments, in India.  The custom spread to other colonies and tropical fruit, too, began to be incorporated into some of the recipes. Then the travelling British decided they wanted spiced mixtures of fruit and vegetables which would keep and so began adding vinegar and large quantities of sugar.  Eventually they brought their recipes and the word "chutney" back to Britain.

And now I am carrying on the tradition of chutney making in Sicily!  Sadly, it is wasted on most of my Sicilian friends who abhor the British habit of mixing sweet and savoury ingredients and when I point out that they do it themselves in several dishes such as coniglio in agrodolce [sweet and sour rabbit] they just shrug their shoulders and say that is different. Anyway, I brought my preserving pan and extremely long-handled wooden chutney-mixing spoon from Britain and I haven't given up yet!

On Saturday - better late than never -  I made my first batch of apple chutney here in three years: Once again Rosa was the willing "gofer" and once again I used a mixture of Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples in the absence of cooking apples.  The recipe I use, from a Jennifer Paterson book called Feast Days [published long before her incarnation as one of the famous Two Fat Ladies] calls for white malt vinegar, but as I like apple chutney to be quite dark and you can't get malt vinegar here, I used a mixture of red and white wine vinegars. I don't leave the chutney to cool before potting it but pour it straight into sterilised jars and then I leave it covered with a clean tea towel for twelve hours before putting on the lids, which I line with greaseproof paper, just as my mother taught me.

This time it took ages to cut out the "hats" as my pinking shears has seen better days and is getting hard to manoeuvre but all will be worth it when the flavours have mellowed after a month and I can use the chutney!


Oh, and this is a 2002 photo of me making chutney in Carson City, Nevada, USA., where a friend had cajoled me into giving a demonstration!



6 comments:

CherryPie said...

I can almost taste it, Yum :-)

Josep said...

It was fascinating to read the story of apple chutney and it sounds delicious. Are Granny Smith and Golden apples popular in Sicily? I ask it because these are the most common here, and I picked a lot of them years ago, working during the summers in apple orchards. I do not know which are the apple varieties for cooking though. I never got to be an expert on this.

Wolfie said...

I've converted my wife, if you recall as Spanish to British chutney. Now she cannot take her cheese without its aid.

We now stock a substantial selection.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thanks, Cherie. Hi, Josep. I'm glad you enjoyed the account. Golden apples seem very popular but I like the yellow Sicilian apples best. British cooking apples are very big!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hello, Wolfie. How lovely to see you. Yes, I do remember that your wife is spanish. Well done for converting her!

Winchester whisperer said...

Sounds very good. Last year's plum chutney is still festering in my cupboard.

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