Yesterday I talked about the changes in nature at this time of year, but today, I want to talk about the smells at this time of year.
I’m not talking about the smells blowing in from the fields as the farmers prepare the soil for winter. I’m talking about the one smell I really associate with this time of year, and that is the smell of spices and vinegar as preserves are prepared.
My Mum, as I have said previously was a great home cook. She was a child during WWII and therefore scrimping and using everything was something that was the norm for her family. She therefore carried on with these ideas, and passed many of them on to me. I am a great believer in not wasting anything you can use, especially where food is concerned. When my Dad has his allotment, it always meant a huge glut of tomatoes come the end of the summer. There were a fair lot of ripe ones that my Mum would eat – she was the only person in the household that would eat tomatoes as they are, but it was the green ones that were the real treasure. My Mums green tomato chutney was the best. I can honestly say I have never tasted anything better on a cheese sandwich. I love Branston, but my Mums chutney is in a totally different league! Unfortunately these days getting hold of green tomatoes isn’t that easy. We buy our veg from the local farm so it is what is seasonal, and asking at the supermarket if they can get you a special order doesn’t work, and there is no greengrocer in the area who might be able to help. I am therefore resigned to the fact that this delicacy wont be tasted for a while, but I keep the recipe safe for the time I can make it.
In the mean time thought I have had to look for other ideas for making chutney and relishes that will excite our palates.
At the weekend I made a wonderful onion chutney. Even Hubby has had it in his sandwiches in his lunchbox this week which I take as compliment as he usually likes something spicier!
Last week I had some beetroot from the farm, and hadn’t used them up, so today I decided before they went soft I had to chutnefy – I know that isn’t a real word, but it is now! – them. I found I recipe I used many years back, and started chopping!
2 1/2 lbs raw beetroot – peeled
3 apples – peeled and cored
3 Oranges – juice
2tsp ground coriander
1 tbs ground cloves
1 tbs ground cinnamon
1 1/2 pints cider vinegar
2lb granulated sugar
How you prepare this all depends on the chunkiness you like your chutney. I don’t like big lumps, so I put the beetroot, onions, and apples, through the mincer, but if you don’t want it so smooth, dice them to a size you like – don’t forget to use gloves when doing the beetroot or you’ll have pink hands for a week or more!
Put everything in a huge pan, and slowly bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Allow to simmer for about an hour and it has gone thick and gloopy. The way I tell if its done it when you scrape the bottom of the pan, only a little juice returns.
Fill warm jars – usually 3 x 1lb jar, plus a taster.
Like all chutney, this does improve with sitting for a couple of weeks, but if like me you have no self-control, it tastes great straight away. It is sharp with a sweet after taste. I don’t like beetroot as it is, but in a chutney like this, its natural sweetness comes through, and the colour is amazing.
My house smells lovely now. A smell that is warm and comforting. I think it is the cloves that are the overriding scent in the air. When D came home for lunch he walked in and was over come by the appetising smell, and it was still cooking at the point. It smells so much better now!
Now to make some bread to test it properly with!!!!