Back in August I made my first attempts at making chutney. At the time I was trying to use up ripe fruit as I knew I’d be away for several days on a business trip.
Fast forward to now and I’ve essentially ended up with shelves and boxes covered in jars of various chutneys and vegetable based jams.
So what happened?
Well the tomato crop was good. It was way better than last year and overall I’d view it as a qualified success. It could have been better and there are definitely mistakes to learn from. But overall it was a good year.
Cucumbers didn’t do as well this year as last year, but they still did produce enough for one batch of chutney.
My chilli pepper crop was used to give flavour to most of the chutneys that I ended up making.
I got enough apple from my garden to make one batch of chutney, but I was also given plenty of apples by other people whose own crops were bumper this year. Apples make for a nice chutney by themselves or you can do a nice apple and tomato variant. Of course I’ve also been tasked with making apple crumble, so I’ve done that too!
One of the issues I ran into was with the green tomatoes, as I really did not want them to go to waste. Fortunately friends suggested that I make “jam” from them and I also discovered recipes for “normal” chutney as well.
Early on in the season I invested in a jam funnel, which fits nicely over most jar sizes. It makes the entire bottling process that little bit easier.
So what about lessons?
On the growing side I need to do a better job of keeping the tomato plants under control. I did a very poor job of that again this year and I probably lost quite a bit of potential crop because of it. The irrigation system I have setup in the greenhouse has made things a lot better overall, but tomatoes are very thirsty, so I might need to augment it.
On the preserve making side I’m overall semi-happy. I need to find better recipes for some of the preserves I’d like to make, as I made the mistake of buying a very American book and it wasn’t of much help to me at all. Online recipes overall are helpful, but I like having a book to reference in my physical hand.
I was able to use my own garlic this year, but I hadn’t grown any onions, so I want to rectify that.
I’m also not very happy with having to pay for jars, so I’ve started collecting empty ones now. By next season I should have more than enough!
I’d also like to do a better job with the entire bottling and labelling side of things.
Do I need a special pan for doing chutneys and jams?
Overall I’ve enjoyed making the chutneys and jams, but I want to do it better of course!