A trio of delicious Christmas chutney recipes that are ideal for gifts, and for boxing day cold meats and cheese.
We are bombarded with commercial messaging for Christmas even more so now than ever before. We focus on the things we don’t have. Our Christmas lists are filled with wants and needs. We often forget of the things we already have.
I knew this more than ever after freelancing over one Christmas. 3 invoiced payments hadn’t come on time, and I had to seriously consider giving up my car and laptop (I already lived with my parents – luckily!) which would have seriously hindered my ability to meet clients and work. And then the Christmas gift frenzy came and I felt very isolated. Society has a way of losing interest in you once you don’t have a lot of money. I worked in advertising my whole adult life up to this point and I had been equally guilty of this: targeting adverts to those who had the most amount of money, forgetting those who don’t. The less well-off weren’t “valuable” commercially.
This is where these Christmas chutney recipes came from. My family knew I was having a hard time, and they knew I was struggling with money. No one expected me to buy anything. I had enough money to pay for my car that month and for a big bag of Bramley apples, red and white onions, figs, vinegar, sugar, and spices. I found some cheap empty jam jars and some sticky labels we already had. I made 2 types of chutney – an apple one and a red onion one. I gifted them to everyone and they were a hit.
In fact, I managed to pull myself out of freelancing (I didn’t need to sell my car and laptop) by sheer hard work and bloody-mindedness. Working for myself wasn’t for me! But I still make these chutneys because I still get asked to make them by my friends and family. There’s nothing better than giving someone something you’ve made for Christmas that’s unique and made using your time. Because that’s the real gift, isn’t it? Your Time.
In the rush to get presents and food this Christmas, don’t forget to make time for your friends and family. And make sure you set aside time to make these Christmas Chutneys. You do need a quiet day to yourself with no one around as they can require concentration when jar-ing them up.
They’re absolutely perfect with all kinds of cheeses, cold meats, patés, and crusty bread. Make sure you take a look at all my Christmas recipes this year too, if you need a bit of inspiration.
3 Christmas chutney recipes for gifts
These recipes make enough for about 6 x gifts of 3 x small jars of chutneys. It might make more or less.
Spiced apple chutney
- 1 kg Bramley apples diced (weight after they've been cored and peeled)
- 4 medium white onions medium diced
- 700 ml cider vinegar
- 750 g golden caster sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cloves
Caramelised red onion chutney
- 1 kg red onions sliced into strips (weight after they've been skinned)
- 2 bay leaves
- 200 g brown sugar
- 150 ml cheap balsamic vinegar
- 150 ml red wine vinegar
Fig and orange chutney
- 500 g fresh figs (you can use dried figs- just half the quantity)
- 1 Bramley apple medium diced
- 1 white onion medium diced
- 200 ml red wine vinegar
- 1 small glass orange juice
- 1 large orange, zested
- 150 g golden caster sugar
- 2 tsp ground ginger
Put your jam jars into the dishwasher an hour before you cook the chutney to sterilise them.
The process for all the chutneys are about the same:
Put all the ingredients into a large metal pan to simmer slowly until they're cooked through and until the mixture thickens.
For the onion chutney, caramelise the onions in butter first and then follow the step above.
Remember: you're heating sugar and this has a propensity to turn into carbon if you give it a chance. Medium heat and slowly.
Jar up the mixture. It really helps to seal the jars if the mixture is piping hot when it goes into them. The button should be concave in the lid as it cools down. If it doesn't, reheat the mixture and try again.
Stick labels on them and pop them into little paper bags. You can decorate them with dried oranges and cinnamon.
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