Category Archives: Preserves

Hedgerow Chutney

As followers on Twitter and FB probably well know I’ve been up to more than a spot of preserving of late. It’s my latest addiction, as if I need any more of those. My Dad’s the King of Jams, Chutneys and Pickles and I have a feeling he’s passed his enthusiastic genes for it on to me!. Which is great, but time consuming. Many an evening has been spent peeling, dicing, de-stoning, chopping, stirring, testing, sterilising and jarring. And then obviously the tasting. And all the crackers, bread and cheese to go with it!. I rarely get to bed much before midnight on my chutneying nights. And to be honest my cupboards are now fit to bursting with so many goodies, but at least I have christmas presents totally nailed this year.

My Dad’s been making Hedgerow Chutney for years, and it happens to be everyone’s favourite of all his chutney recipes (and he makes quite a number!). Each autumn he takes a long walk around the field at the back of his house in Herefordshire picking all the freebie hedgerow goodies he can find and transforms them into this marvellously fruitful chutney. There’s always plenty of damsons, bullaces, sloes, blackberries and a few elderberries. Plus pears or apples for smoothing and bulking out. We don’t have quite the same fruit in our hedgerows in France but I thought I’d make my own French version picking the fruit from our garden and nearby tracks and lanes, managing to find plenty of figs, greengages, plums, pears, blackberries and sloes just before the season finished a couple of weeks ago. We’ve elderberries here too but they were way past their best by the time I got into full chutney mode.

The lovely sloes

My little sloe picker!

There’s no escaping how time consuming and labourious chutney making can be, especially when using so much fruit that needs hefty preparatory work. I realise now why it’s a hobby generally taken up by retired folk. But the results are so worth it, if you can spare it set aside a whole evening in the kitchen and wile away the hours getting lost in music or the radio or even catching up on a few programmes on You Tube.

Every year my Dad’s Hedgerow Chutney is slightly different depending on which fruits have been particularly fruitful that year so feel free to use in whatever quantities you happen to find, but go easy on too many woody elderberries (which are particularly fiddly anyway).

Particularly fabulous with goats cheese, but to be honest it’s pretty good with any cheese or cold cut really. Bread or crackers, or to liven up a sandwich. Or just as a spread on it’s own.

Hedgerow Chutney

Makes 8 to 12 jars (depending obviously on the size of your jars!)

3 kilos of prepared hedgerow fruit, washed and de-stoned

a kilo of apples or pears, peeled, cored and finely chopped

a kilo of onions, finely diced

150g of fresh ginger, grated

1300g of demerera sugar

800ml of malt or cider vinegar (I use cider as I can’t source malt vinegar in France)

a teaspoon of salt

Special Equipment: A very large pan, 8 to 12 sterilised jars and lids

Start with prepping all your fruit. If using elderberries and/or sloes boil them in a pan with a little water for 10 minutes to soften a little before passing through a sieve to remove the skin and pips. Remove the stones from all other stoned fruit (bullaces, damsons,  plums or greengages) and cut to an equal size. Smaller fruit can be just chopped in two, but larger plums should be diced some more.

Peel the apples and pears, core and finely dice. Dice any other fruit you’re using. Blackberries may be left whole. Finally dice the onions (I actually cheated with the onions and briefly pulsed them in my food processor to save on a little time).

Place all the fruit and onion in a large pan, preferably a jam pan or maslin. I actually use a very large stock pot for all my jams and chutneys. Pour in the vinegar and sugar together with the grated ginger and salt.

Place on the hob on a high heat and bring everything to a simmer. Cook fairly furiously for at least an hour, stirring very regularly so nothing catches on the bottom. The chutney should be considerably thickened and the surplus liquid evaporated. You should be able to cross a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan and see the bottom.

Ladle into sterilised jars and screw the lids on immediately. Leave to mature for at least 2 months (if you can resist!).

You might also like:

Cinnamon & Greengage or Plum Jam

Homemade Tomato Ketchup

One of our old pear trees

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Homemade Tomato Ketchup

I was very kindly given this glorious recipe last week by a friend and neighbour of my Mum and Dads in Herefordshire, Janette. My Mum had happened to mention quite how overrun I was with all our homegrown tommies and Janette suggested I used them to make Tommie Sauce and promptly emailed me the recipe that her mum had passed on to her that she’d always eaten as a child. How wonderful is that?.

I immediately set to to make it, just in the nick of time picking the last of our beef and plum tommies and a few of the still prolific cherries, and I couldn’t think of a better recipe to celebrate the end of one extremely hectic tomatoey summer. Incase you missed reading about all our tomatoes here’s my Tomato Veg of the Month Round Up. And although the tomato season is pretty much over for most people I couldn’t help myself  in blogging it now rather than wait until next year, when undoubtedly I’ll be making many further batches!.

I should also mention that Janette is generally known to us as ‘Chocolate Janette’ as she so happens to own a small chain of gorgeous artisan chocolate shops in Ludlow, Worcester and Shrewsbury and an online business too, www.chocolategourmet.co.uk. Now that’s the sort of neighbour everyone needs!.

I have to admit to being extremely skeptical that a Homemade Tommie Sauce would meat the mark. The mark being the big H brand so known and loved. And how wrong was I? This recipe is superb, the kids couldn’t tell the difference and I would honestly go as far to say I preferred it, though it’s remarkably similar. I know we’re now at the end of the tomato year, but if you happen to come across some cheap and flavoursome tommies I urge you to make this, or bookmark it for next summer. It doesn’t take long at all, is foolproof simple and oh sooooooo good. I now have a serious addiction. In truth I’ve never been that huge on Tommie K though I do love it on a bacon butty, but now I’ve made my own it’s going on everything. I even made some homemade chips at the weekend to give it a thorough road test, and I don’t ever eat ketchup on chips. And I don’t have to tell you how good it was.

I’m not sure you can beat a bacon butty with homemade Tommie K, this was the second of the weekend!

Similarly my kids aren’t huge Tommie K addicts like some kids, but then I probably haven’t allowed them to be. It’s only ever brought out with chips, which are a pretty rare treat at Chez Foti. But now it’s on free flow they’re asking for it with everything!. It’s actually called ‘Bop Bop’ sauce in our house, bet no one can guess why?!

Jacques safeguarding his precious bottle of Bop Bop Sauce, that he enjoyed for lunch yesterday with his cheese on toast

As homemade Tommie K is technically a Preserve I’m also entering it to this month’s Tea Time Treats  challenge, and it’s certainly a popular Tea Time Treat in our house now!. The blogging event it held jointly by Karen @ Lavender and Lovage and this month by Kate @ What Kate Baked.

The recipe below is pretty much exactly how Janette emailed it to me, though I used cider vinegar instead of the malt. Not to posh it up in any way, but you can’t buy malt vinegar in France. I also used a little less sugar as I didn’t feel it needed it all, but then my tommies were extremely ripe and sweet. I skinned my tomatoes first, which is really not at all tricky. Simply immerse them in boiling water for a minute then plunge into cold for a few moments, the skins will then effortlessly slip off. I didn’t bother with the straining (actually I started then promptly stopped as I didn’t want to waste so much goodness!) but gave the finished sauce a very good blitzing with a hand blender.

Homemade Tomato Ketchup

2700g (2.7 kilos) of ripe tomatoes

570ml of malt vinegar

225g of sugar

25g of salt

½ a teaspoon of allspice

½ a teaspoon of ground cloves

½ a teaspoon of cinnamon

a pinch of cayenne pepper

Special Equipment: Sterilised bottles or jars

Skin your tomatoes if preferred.  Cut into rough quarters and simmer with the salt and vinegar until soft and broken.

Strain if you have not skinned then return the puree to the pan, add the sugar.  Continue to simmer until the ketchup starts to thicken. Then add the spices a little at a time stirring thoroughly until the flavour is to your taste. I probably added a little more of each than the recipe called for.

When the ketchup is reasonably thick pour into sterilised hot bottles or jars and seal.

Please note it will be thicker when cold than hot, so don’t reduce it too far. If you like a more rustic texture with the seeds still in the sauce miss out the straining process.

And before I go, why ‘Bop Bop’ sauce? When the squeezy Tommie K sauce bottles are coming to an end (which ours is at the minute) the kids think the sound is hilarious, like a ‘bop bop’, which in case you (probably) need further explanation the kids call a ‘fart’ or bottom. And so Tommie K has become the ‘Bop Bop’ sauce!. My kids are very little, and Bops Bops are still one of the funniest things in their worlds!

Related blogs:

August & September in the Garden

Homemade Sun (aka Oven) Dried Tomatoes

A Glut of Tomatoes Pasta Sauces

Cinnamon & Greengage or Plum Jam

I’ve recently got into jam making @ Chez Foti and I’m totally hooked. My Dad’s an amazing jam, marmalade, chutney and pickle maker and has been supplying Family Foti with his wonderful retirement hobby preserves for years. To be honest when we lived in the UK and had his ready supply I never even considered making my own (and had a distinct lack of time with two very little littlies!), but now we’re in France and one and a half of the children are at school (Little Miss F full time and Master J part time) I finally have a few snippets of time for jam making. Plus we’ve had an amazing abundance of wild fruit at Chez Foti this summer and autumn. The old plum tree and five greengages have been weighed down with their fruity wares this year, none of which bore a single fruit last year. We’ve also a crazy amount of blackberries, a couple of apple trees and three old but exceptionally fruitful pear trees. And plenty of neighbours with unlimited kilos of figs going spare.

It’s been surprisingly easy to get good results with the jam making, but then I could be having a long spate of beginners luck!. So far I’ve made four different batches of plum or greengage jam, using different sugars and adding or omitting cinnamon, but the recipe below is my favourite. I’m not even a jam gal normally, much preferring my marmite, peanut butter or (dad’s) marmalade on my toast in the morning. But now we have jars and jars of the homemade stuff I can’t resist, and the same for the kids who’ve never really liked jam much before. Mr F however is and always has been a BIG jam eater, and nothing else for him will ever suffice on toast. Needless to say he’s one happy husband these days loving my latest foray into the world of jam making!.

Master J sneakily dipping into my jam!

Last autumn I tried my hand for the first time at chutney making, again with some very pleasing beginners luck results. As yet I haven’t got around to chutneying this year, though have all the ingredients and a garden and potager full of waiting wares, so watch this space!. I should also mention I recently made a huge batch of the most wonderful Fig Jam flavoured with port and lemon following a recipe from a new-to-me-blog The Garden Deli. Please drop by and have a peruse at this gorgeous blog, and if you happen to have a kilo or three of figs going spare then you MUST make this jam, equally wonderful on toast in the morning or as a savory preserve served with goats or sheeps cheeses.

As the theme of this month’s Tea Time Treats blogging challenge, held jointly by Karen @ Lavender and Lovage and this month by Kate @ What Kate Baked, is Jams, Chutneys, Curds and Conserves I’m entering for the first ever time!.

Cinnamon Greengage or Plum Jam

To make 5 average sized jars:

1.5 kilos of plums or greengages, washed, halved and stoned

400ml of water

1.25 kilos of granulated sugar

2 heaped teaspoons of ground cinnamon

Place the halved and de-stoned plums or greengages together with the water in a very large pan, preferably a jam or maslin pan. Place on a medium heat and simmer for 10 to 20 minutes until the fruit and skins are a little softened.

Stir in the sugar and cinnamon and raise the heat. Bring to a simmer and allow to boil reasonably furiously until setting point is reached, either by a thermometer temperature of 104.5 or by testing a drop on a cold saucer (place a couple in the fridge at the start of the jam making process). If you can wrinkle the jam (just a little) after a minute on the saucer it’s good to go.

Immediately pour into sterilised jars and top with a wax disc and the jar lid whilst still piping hot.

And here he is again sneaking a greengage!


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