Here is a recipe for a rich and deliciously fruity plum chutney which goes perfectly with a vegetarian loaf on the Christmas dinner table. Serving chutneys specifically to accompany the vegetarian alternative to the traditional roast is a wonderful way of making a vegetarian Christmas dinner very special and festive.
How to Make Plum Chutney for Christmas Dinner
- 450g / 1lb / 3 cups ripened plums, quartered and stoned
- zest and juice of half a lemon
- 1/4 pint / 120ml / 4oz cider vinegar
- 1 cup / 200g / 7oz brown sugar
- 1/2 medium sized white onion, peeled and chopped
- 2/3 cup / 100g / 4oz sultanas
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 1/2 cm / 3/4″ ginger finely grated
- 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
- tiny pinch of chili (powder or chopped) for the faintest hint of bite
- 3 tbsps / 1.5 oz / 45mls port
- Put all the ingredients except the port into a heavy pan and bring to a rolling boil.
- Turn down the heat so that the ingredients are on a gentle boil for 30-45 minutes until the liquid begins to reduce and become thicker.
- Stir occasionally to prevent the chutney from burning or sticking.
- When a wooden spoon is drawn across the base of the pan leaving a momentary path, the chutney is just about done.
- Taste for strength of chili and seasonings, and adjust if necessary.
- Now add the port and boil again until the mixture has rethickened.
- Remove cinnamon stick.
- Cool and store short term in the refrigerator in covered bowl.
- When needed, transfer some to a pretty bowl and allow to reach room temperature to allow the flavours and aroma to come through.
Making Fruit Chutneys
Chutney is very easy to make and can be done ahead of the big day so as to save time. For this particular recipe using ripened plums, the ingredients will give a generous pound / 450g of chutney which need not be bottled. Just keep it chilled and it can be used on Christmas and Boxing Day, as well as in the following days as a delicious addition to cheese and biscuits.
Chutneys usually require some time to mature and for the sharpness of the vinegar to mellow. This particular chutney has a mouth watering list of ingredients which will help to counter the sharpness, and the chutney’s bite will go very well with rich vegetarian main courses.
Sterilising Glass Jars and Storing Chutneys
If chutney is to be made well ahead of time it is sensible to store it properly so as to avoid any spoilage. The traditional way of making sure jars are absolutely clean is to wash and rinse them thoroughly, place them upside down on a rack on the middle shelf of a pre-heated oven at 140C / 275F / Gas Mark 1 for half an hour. Let them cool by leaving the over door open, or taking them out carefully and leaving them on the side.
When the chutney is ready, pour hot water into each jar so as to prevent the glass from cracking when the hot chutney is poured in, and just before transfer, pour the water away. Top the chutney in each jar with a circle of greaseproof/silica paper and then put the lid on or tie on a greaseproof / silica paper cover with an elastic band or string. Some people use traditional preserve jars with rubber rings as sealants.
Chutneys as Christmas Gifts
Making home made Christmas presents adds a really loving and personal touch to gift giving as well as passing on a little taste of Christmas. Decorate the jar with a fir cone and some ivy tied together with a pretty piece of red or purple ribbon, and add a beautifully written label. For the final touch, tie on a small label giving serving suggestions as well as a list of the ingredients, written in a pretty script.