It is the beginning of August. The temperature, a mean 36 degrees C. Most people in Zurich have battened down the hatches, their window-shutters clamped down in a vain attempt to preserve the cool air from the morning and fend away the beating afternoon sun. The rest have found solace in the lake, bobbing around in the drink or floating aimlessly in pedaloes. Me? I’m doing neither. Instead, my stove is on, and I am making chutney. And whilst I am sweltering over said stove, with a river of sweat down my back and my hair plastered to my forehead, there’s a smile on my face. A smile because, in 5 months time, whilst most people in Zurich are doing their food-shop, swiping jars of caramelized onions from the shelves, I’ll be popping open a batch of homemade Spiced Plum Chutney, dolloping it on a cracker with a slab of mature cheddar and knowing that it was all so so worth it.
RECIPE: Spiced Plum Chutney
FLAVOUR PROFILE: Rich, fruity, spicy and jammy.
GOES GREAT WITH: Cheese. Soft cheeses are especially nice with this chutney. Camembert would be perfect. In fact, baked Camembert would be even better!
MAKES: 2 x 300ml jars
- 1 tbsp. SUNFLOWER OIL
- 1 RED ONION, peeled and finely diced
- 500g (17.6oz) PLUMS, stones removed and diced
- 2 BAY LEAVES
- 1/2 CINNAMON STICK
- 3 WHOLE CLOVES
- 1/4 tsp GROUND ALLSPICE
- 1/2 tsp GROUND GINGER
- 200g (7oz) BROWN SUGAR
- 1/2 ORANGE, zest the peel and squeeze the juice
- 200ml CIDER VINEGAR, approximate measurement (see method)
- Heat SUNFLOWER OIL in a large pan. Keep the heat low and add the RED ONION. Cook slowly and gently. Be patient here. You want them to become soft and toffee-coloured, which took me about 15 minutes. Just be mindful that they don’t catch on the bottom of the pan, otherwise you can just leave them be whilst you prepare the other ingredients.
- Add BAY LEAVES, CINNAMON, CLOVES, GINGER and ALLSPICE to the pan, and fry for a minute until they release their aroma.
- Add PLUMS, SUGAR and ORANGE ZEST and give it all a good stir.
- Weigh the ORANGE JUICE (mine came to 30ml) and top up with CIDER VINEGAR until the total amount reads 225ml. Add this to the pan. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to simmer until the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is nice and jammy. Mine took about 40 minutes.
- Spoon into sterilised jars and leave in a cool dark place for at least 4 weeks.