Sunday, 12 October 2014

Hawthorn Berry Chutney

I'm full of cold today, I've just taken a 'night-time' cold and flu tablet, I don't need much encouragement to sleep at the best of time, so I'm fully expecting to be comatose within about 20 minutes, I'll type fast... So autumn brings colds and flu, but also the best of the seasonal food in my view...


In my kitchen at the moment I have a mix of amazing looking squashes, bags of hawthorn berries, pickles in jars of all shades and colours dotted around, it really feels like a bounty compared to any other time of year. It is a pleasure having the time at Cook House to pickle, pot and preserve as the autumn sun streams in the windows. The nooks and crannies of the Ouseburn are also filled with blackberries, rosehips and elderberries, massive spiders and thorns, but I have still managed to fill up punnets with various hedgerow bounties... add to that the start of the shooting season and I couldn’t be happier to be back in the throes of autumnal dining... 


I'm pretty pleased with this chutney, I have always imagined hawthorn to be poisonous, but it turns out you can eat all of it, leaves, blossom and berries... The trees in the Lake District last weekend were heavy with hawthorn berries, I filled a bag full. The little hawthorn berries are plentiful at this time of year and they make a delicious chutney, good with cold meats, game and cheese, a tasty sweet-spicy sauce... 


  
 
Snip the berries from their stalks, about 1kg of them, wash them then simmer in 500ml of cider vinegar and a teaspoon of salt. Simmer for an hour then press through a sieve into a clean saucepan, keeping the syrup you extract. Add to it, 125g of raisins and 300g of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves, ¼ teaspoon of ground allspice and a grind of black pepper. Then simmer uncovered for 15 minutes until quite thick and pour into clean jars and seal. It is delicious with a slice of game terrine, rich spicy and quite different from any chutney I've ever had...



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