trotsky’s treat


the gorgeous pooch pictured above (and below, if you keep reading) is trotsky who is owned by my friend dom. dom is a great person to know as not only has she got a trotsky, but she is a superb and prolific jam, marmalade and chutney maker.

whenever we visit, david and i always end up peering into her preserves cupboard and then have to make the difficult decision about which jars to request.

i asked dom if she’d let me have details of one of her creations for this blog and the result is below. it’s also in the jar that trotsky is so excited about!

damsons are coming to the end of their season but if you do manage to get some – dom’s come from the park where she walks trotsky every morning and picking them usually involves her sitting on her husband john' s shoulders – give this recipe a try and let us know how you get on!

dom’s damson and apple chutney

1.5kg whole damsons

4 small bramley apples, peeled and roughly chopped

3 onions, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup brown sugar

2.5 cups white sugar

2.5 cups white wine vinegar

1/2 cup raisins

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon allspice powder

1 teaspoon ground cloves

4 teaspoon white mustard seeds.

the most complicated bit about making chutney is protecting your home from the lingering smell... (though the finished article is worth it) so open the kitchen windows, put the fan on, and close the doors to the other rooms!

put all the ingredients in a preserving pan and bring slowly to the boil, checking that the sugar has dissolved before boiling point is reached. then simply simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally as you don't want it to stick, until the mixture is thick and pulpy – 30-45 minutes. as it cooks, the damsons will disintegrate and you can fish out their stones which will begin to float on the surface it ' s easier to remove them this way than to stone each fruit before you begin.

have some clean jars warming in the oven (150c) and put the lids in a jug and sterilise with boiling water. when the chutney's ready, pot it into the jars and put the lids on immediately. the books all say to wait until the chutney is cold before putting the lids on, but i never do (i also dispense with waxed paper discs and other such unnecessaries), because if the lids go on immediately, as the chutney cools it forms a vacuum seal within the jar, which helps the chutney to keep.

this chutney is best left to mature for about 8 weeks before eating - it's excellent with cold meat and especially cold game meats, so if you make some soon it's great for christmas, either as a present or to scoff yourself!