The first frosts arrived with October and the garden is entering a new phase. The plants are dying back but at the same time in peak production. It’s just not possible to eat it all so you have to find some way of preserving it. Some things you can freeze but the result is often a bit of a let down. To my mind one of the best ways to lock all the summer’s vitamins, nutrients and flavours away for the winter ahead is by pickling.
The word “chutney” is derived from the Sanskirit word caṭnī, a term for a class of spicy preparations used as an accompaniment for a main dish. Like so many Indian recipes it has been absorbed into British culinary-culture and has evolved into something quintessentially British. It is unheard of in Euskal Herria but hugely popular among my Basque friends. At least they appreciate that British food goes beyond egg ‘n chips!
There are millions of recipes with all sorts of peculiarities. Over the years I have reduced it to the essentials. Weigh your ingredients and calculate on adding 10% weight/volume of sugar (brown is best) and vinegar. I try to balance sweet fruits such as apples and plums with the other ingredients.
The recipe you can see in this video contains;
Ripe tomatoes 4Kg
Tie a selection of spices into a piece of cloth. This chutney has black pepper, ginger, chile flakes, mustard seeds, cardamon and ginger. Chuck your spice bag in with the rest of the ingredients and boil gently till you get a jam like consistency. Jar in sterilised jars and store until around December.
Having completed the task of “chutneying” such a large quantity of veg I found myself reflecting on a process which required; the planting and maintenance of a garden, the felling, cutting and transporting of wood for the fire, the chopping of the veg and the jarring of the chutney. I also had to build a new stove which you can see here.
It’s always a good exercise to reflect on the origins of what we find in our surroundings. I can say that we are 100%self sufficient in chutney. But as someone once said, “man does not live by chutney alone”. Neither is this an exercise in self sufficiency, survival-ism or any of that individualist doctrine. It is a collaboration with nature and a bunch of other folk who live near by or happen through.
Is it worth it? If I apply the economics of money to it, probably not. If I apply the economics of “bienestar”, well being or Bizipoza. It is beyond doubt, sustaining and sustainable.