Introduction: Martha's Chutney

I've been making this chutney for years, to give as a Christmas gift to my relatives. It started as a recipe called Major Marshall's chutney in a preserving book published by the British Sugar Bureau in the 1970s. I have gradually changed it - less tomatoes and apples, different spices.

I have always tried to cook it outdoors, because I hate the way it makes the whole house smell of vinegar. I used to cook it on a gas barbecue, though it tends to burn on the bottom of the pan if you aren't careful. Then this year I thought of cooking it in my slow cooker, out on the patio and plugged in to the lawnmower socket.

Perfect for an English ploughman's lunch!

Step 1: Ingredients

700 g plums
500 g cooking apples
300 g tomatoes
250 g onions
120 g dates
2 teaspoons salt
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon whole spices (I used cinnamon, allspice, black pepper, chilli,cloves and star anise)
60 g Demerara sugar
60 g golden castor sugar
120 g golden syrup
425 ml white wine vinegar

(You could use more sugar instead of golden syrup, or I think corn syrup would work)

Step 2: Prepare the Fruit and Veg

Cover the tomatoes with boiling water, leave for 1 minute, then drain and cover with cold water. Skin the tomatoes and chop roughly.

Stone the plums and cut into quarters.

Peel, core and chop the apples.

Skin and chop the onions.

Use scissors to chop the dates roughly.

Peel and crush the garlic.

Tie the spices up in a piece of muslin (I used the net bag that the garlic came in).

Step 3: Cook the Chutney

Put everything in the slow cooker and cook on high for about 8 hours, stirring halfway. Then take the lid off and continue cooking on high for another 2 hours or more, until the chutney is thick and there is no loose liquid. Stir occasionally .

You can turn off the slow cooker and leave the chutney overnight, then cook more the next day - I had to do this because it wasn't ready by bedtime!

(On the stove top, it will take 2 or 3 hours to cook on a low heat - you need to stir often or it will burn, especially towards the end)

Step 4: Pot and Cover

Remove the bag of spices. Transfer the chutney to clean dry warm jars (heat them in a low oven for half an hour.). Cover immediately with vinegar-proof lids. Label and store in a cool dry place. Best left at least a month before eating as the flavour mellows. Keeps a year at least.

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