It’s coming towards the end of August, so we’re now into what I like to call “jam and chutney season”. Admittedly you can start making jam much earlier in the year if you want to and of course the same is true of chutneys. However, being a little more traditional, I associate this time of year with tomatoes, apples and blackberries.
Last year I made a variety of different chutneys and other tomato based preserves. Most turned out fairly well, so I was delighted.
One of the big issues I faced last year was a very practical one. Jars.
I simply did not have enough of them and ended up having to buy them.
This year I’m a bit better organised and I have a collection of jars that I’ve built up over the past year.
It’s a rather motley collection, but there’s enough to start the season.
This “summer” has been decidedly odd. While the weather was fine in June it turned horribly damp in July. So right now I’ve absolutely no idea how big a crop of tomatoes I’ll get. Sadly this year the chilli plants simply did not take and so I won’t have any hot peppers. Or even sweet ones. More lessons learnt I guess!
So far this season I’ve made one batch of tomato chutney. I had been hoping to make an apple and blackberry jam, but I’ll need to collect more blackberries if I want to try that. I’ve also been reliving my youth a little – going blackberry picking along the side of the road. I used to do it with my grandmother in Clare over 40 years ago. It’s been a while!
Chutney is best once it’s been left to mature for a few weeks or months, so I’ve no intention of going anywhere near the fresh batch for now. I don’t need to anyway, as I’ve still got plenty of chutney from last year.
When you start making chutney and jam you end up filling your kitchen cupboards with different types of sugar and vinegar, as well as some spices that you probably don’t use in your day to day cooking. In terms of actual equipment it’s not that complicated. The only bit of “specialised” gear that I’ve acquired was a wide neck metal funnel. It makes the entire bottling process significantly easier so it’s well worth the small investment.
Over the next few weeks I’ll probably end up spending several evenings making various preserves. It’s a fun way to spend a few hours and the end results are so so tasty!