Tag Archives: chutney

Old Doverhouse Chutney

You ask your husband for a simple post about how to make chutney, and this is what you get.

Autumn, and a middle-aged man’s thoughts turn to fruit preservation…

end result

Delia Smith published her famous 1970s cookery course in three books. The culinary neophyte is expected to master the basics in book one, including the exotic- “Bolognese Sauce” on page158. They advance to book two, navigating a chapter on cheese that tricks many a beginner into attempting quiche – or even soufflé – before they’ve earned their kitchen stripes. And then the complicated stuff, the black belt, the third dan, the Heston Blumenthalesque experimentation: book three. The early chapters start gently, with simple food like “crème brulee”, or the “Nine Herb Salad of Hintlesham”, but then, right at the end of the book, the last test for those who consider themselves worthy of the accolade “Fan of Delia” – the chutneys and preserves. I have been through the trial and come out the other side, so can reveal to you today the secret of good chutney:

Chop up a load of fruit and veg, plunge it into vinegar and sugar, and add some spices, salt and raisins. That’s it – it’s easier than a Bolognese sauce. If, like me, you find it hard to follow recipes without adding your own twist, try adding too much chilli, realising your mistake, and making a whole second batch of chutney that you can combine with the first one, to tone it down.

So here’s Delia’s recipe for 8 X 1 lb jars of Old Doverhouse Chutney, which can’t be copyrighted as Delia herself declared it had been given to her on a yellowing page taken from a cookbook belonging to someone’s great-grandmother:

1 ½ lb plums, preferably Victoria
2 lb cooking apples
8 oz green or red tomatoes
1 lb raisins
8 oz onions
1 ½ lb demarara sugar
ginger – 4 oz of preserved ginger, or guess the fresh quantity
chilli – ¼ oz, or guess
garlic – ¼ oz, or guess
1 ½ tablespoons salt
1 pint malt vinegar


We got the cooking apples from our garden, and the plums from my mum’s garden. The tomatoes came cheaply from the local corner shop, because they were going soft.



Take the biggest saucepan you’ve got and pour the whole pint of vinegar into it. Cut the plums in half and remove the stones, then cut the halves in halves, and chuck them into the vinegar. Now chop the tomatoes roughly and add them to the vinegar. Then stick the iplayer on and peel and chop the apples and onions, and whizz them in a food processor, before adding to the pan. (Before we had a food processor we just chopped the apples and onions finely).

Peel the garlic, chilli and ginger, and whizz them in the food processor.  How much you use depends on how hot you like your chutney – I used two whole chillies and five cloves of garlic, and had no idea how much fresh ginger corresponded to preserved ginger, so put a two inch piece in.  The result was too hot for me, but Hannah really liked it.  Why not start with a third of these amounts?


Add the last ingredients to the pan, together with the sugar and salt, and heat everything very gently. Be careful not to heat too quickly as the chutney-to-be can catch on the bottom of the plan and burn really easily.

Simmer until it all looks like chutney. I tend to leave the mixture to cool, then see whether it has that gloopy chutney look about it. If it does, heat up the mixture again before ladling it, still hot, into the jars and screwing the lids down. The cooling chutney creates enough of a vacuum to pull the lids down tight. Delia refers to discs of greaseproof paper, and covering the lids of the jars, but I’ve never had chutney go off when not using these extras.

Finally, as you sit down to the first meal that could do with a bit of homemade chutney on the side, reflect on how odd it is that chutney is a Sanskrit word, wholehearted adopted by the British to reflect the addition of chilli and garlic to a fruit preservation process that has been carried out on these shores for centuries. And then start to wonder about the history of apples in Britain…..

Lavender and pompoms among other things

We are all still at various stages of illness and recovery, so we are having a quiet week.  Yesterday, Suburban dad stayed at home and tried to rest a bit, get some work done and help with the children as much as he could, so we muddled through the day.  In the morning, the two little ones still seemed to be quite unwell, and Rabbit fell asleep on the sofa soon after she got up.  However, they both felt better after a little while and had a lovely time playing games with Supergirl (Scrabble and Marble Run and probably others as well, I can’t remember.)  The big boys did some Maths and English, and played some Science games online.  Owl played a BBC Schools game about Rocks which I suggested, and Monkey chose a game on BBC Bitesize.

Then I decided on a whim that it was time to do something with the lavender we picked in July.  Last weekend it got moved to the hall when we were clearing out the Laundry room, and when I was tidying the hall yesterday I thought I should probably stop moving it from room to room and just use it instead.  So I started stripping the lavender with the children and Supergirl came to help.  Then the children wandered off and Supergirl and I finished the job.  It was quite therapeutic.


Owl, Monkey and Tiddler made lavender bags, but Tiddler was not quite well enough to manage it, so he had a daddy cuddle instead.  Maybe he can make one another day – there is plenty of lavender left.

In the afternoon, Monkey and I went with Supergirl to the local college so she could take a test and register for an EFL course.  When we came back, the big boys did their Music practice, I did some knitting with Rabbit, and all three did Mathletics, Spellodrome and Bible reading.  As promised, I made a pompom with Tiddler.

Monkey went to Beavers, and then I went out to my exercise class, thinking the children would be in bed by the time I got back, but they had been having far too much fun making chutney with daddy instead!


Today, we were all feeling a bit worse again, with more sickness from some of the children and also Supergirl in the night.  So we had a quiet pottering around kind of day, trying not to be too noisy (and probably failing) as Supergirl tried to get some rest upstairs.  The big three did Reading Eggs, and then I did some knitting with Rabbit.  The big boys went upstairs to play with Lego and Tiddler did some puzzles, while I read a story to Rabbit from an old Octonauts magazine and then helped her to make a Snot Sea Cucumber and two Anemones.  She is very proud of them!



In the afternoon, they all did some BBC Bitesize Science games together, and then the younger three watched CBeebies, while Owl read Maths for Martians: Galaxy Getaway.
Then Owl wrote his blogpost and the other three disappeared upstairs.  Rabbit came down after a while and asked for some coins as they were playing fairies.  I was a bit confused but made her some coins out of paper, which seemed quicker at that point than finding some, and also not a choking hazard.  It turns out that Rabbit was the tooth fairy and Monkey and Tiddler were in bed.  It was a nice quiet game!  After that we all started to make some more pompoms, to be continued tomorrow.