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plumsLess wine and more vinegar has been sampled this week as I’ve been sipping samples of hot home-made chutney straight from the boiling pan. After picking several tonnes, (well it seemed like it) of wild damsons and, its near neighbour, wild bullace from the Shropshire hedgerows I needed to find a recipe that would do justice to their flavours. After perusing many recipe books and websites, while finishing off the dregs of a bottle of South African red opened the night before, I finally came across just the recipe I was looking for.

apples on treeA combination of the usual chutney preserving ingredients of vinegar and sugar, along with onions, garlic (lots), raisins and apples (windfalls with the manky bits cut out) and the de-stoned remains of 9lb of bullace results in a fruity but somewhat bland chutney. Add spices to the mix and the chutney reaches a different stratum of flavour.

Ground chilli, ground ginger, black peppercorns, mustard seed and Juniper berry (the recipe called for allspice but the substituted peppery flavoured berry meant I could finally get to justify their purchase) all added to the simmering mass and finally spooned into jars 4 hours later resulted in a dark purple splodge that tasted very similar to HP Brown Sauce.

I know you’re meant to leave chutneys to mature for 6 weeks or so but I couldn’t resist opening a jar and adding a spoonful to the necessary post clear-up bacon sarnie. Delicious. And a couple of glasses of fruity red matched the meals hearty flavours.

 

PG next to White Shield lorryTime is almost up for Worthington’s famous White Shield bottled beer as it’s becoming increasing hard to find beer sellers who still have some in stock. There was a time when almost every pub in the land stocked White Shield bottle-conditioned India Pale Ale made at the Worthington Brewery (now owned by Coors) in Burton upon Trent.

chocolate cakeLet’s drink to flavanoids, and eat to them too. Flavonoids are found in many food and drinks but there are particularly high levels in grapes; apples; green and black tea, soybeans and cocoa. Classed as antioxidants, flavonoids have many health benefits including reducing blood cholesterol levels and easing menopausal symptoms. They can also enhance the memory’s ability to remember and think clearly.

Sherry, whisky and freshly squeezed orange juice are sipped this week as I get started stirring the Christmas mincemeat. Recipes for this booze-soaked Christmas preserve always say you should let it 'mature' for at least a week before you use it. But home-made pies (individual or one large ‘un) will still taste wonderful if the minced fruit and nut mixture is spooned straight into pastry cases as soon as the alcoholic moistness testing has ceased.