Preserving your glut of fruit and veg to enjoy throughout the rest of the year

Pear Chutney

2½ cups caster sugar; ¼lb grated peeled cooking apples; ¼lb onion, chopped; 1 tbsp coarsely grated orange rind; juice of 2 oranges; ½tbsp salt; 2oz fresh ginger, chopped; ½tsp ground cinnamon; 1tsp ground nutmeg; 1tsp cayenne pepper; 2 pinches of saffron strands; 1¼ cups white wine vinegar; 1½lb pears; ½lb tomatoes; ¼ cup golden raisins

Put the sugar in a large, thick-bottomed, non-aluminium saucepan and add the apples, onion, orange rind and juice, and the salt, spices, and vinegar. Simmer, stirring frequently, until thick and syrupy – about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel, core, and roughly chop the pears. Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 15 seconds, then refresh in ice-cold water.

Peel the tomatoes, cut in half, and remove the seeds, and chop the tomato flesh. Add the pears, tomatoes, and golden raisins to the saucepan and simmer until the pears are tender.

Pour into sterilised glass jars and seal while hot. Store in a cool, dark place, or refrigerator for up to 6 months. [From Le Gavroche Cookbook by Michel Roux Jr.]

Pickled Lemons

A recipe called lim mragad in Algeria, and hamid msyiar in Morocco, from North African Cookery by Art der Haroutunian. Pickled lemons and limes give an extraordinary refreshing taste to the tagines of North Africa.

The chief aim, as with all preserving and pickling citrus fruit, is to soften the skin and remove its bitterness, and mellow the sourness of the flesh.

900g (2lbs) firm, juicy lemons, washed and dried; 5-6 tbsp salt; about 600ml (1 pint) water, boiled and cooled

Stand each lemon upright and slice them through and down to form quarters, but do not cut right through – the quarters should remain attached at the base.

Salt the inside generously and then reshape the lemons by pressing them gently into their original form. Pack the lemons tightly in small, sterilized jars and fill to the brim with the water.

Seal tightly and store in a dry place for three to four weeks. Once the jar has been opened, the fruit will not last very long.


A tomato, onion and coriander fresh relish which complements all Indian meals.

½lb (225g) tomatoes; 3oz (75g) onion, peeled; 4 heaped tbsp chopped fresh coriander (or fresh parsley); ¾ tsp salt; 2 tbsp lemon juice; ½ tsp cayenne pepper; ½ tsp ground roasted cumin seeds

Cut the tomatoes and onions into ¼inch (5mm) dice and put them in a smallish, non-metallic serving bowl. Add all the other ingredients and mix. [From Madhur Jaffray’s Indian Cookery.]

Mint Chutney

An Afghan recipe called chutni nahna, best made fresh as and when required, to accompany kebabs and rice dishes. [From Noshe Djan: Afghan Food & Cookery, by Helen Saberi].

25g fresh mint, washed and dried; 1-2 cloves garlic; 1-2 fresh green chillis; 1-2 tbs plain, live yoghurt; salt, according to taste

Shred the washed and dried mint leaves, the chillis and garlic, preferably in a food processor. Now mix in the yoghurt and add salt to taste. Store the mint chutney covered in a refrigerator.

Sweet Beetroot Chutney

A sweet chutney which contrasts the spicy food of South India, from Madhur Jaffray’s Flavours of India.

2 small beetroots, 100g/4oz, peeled and grated; 75g/3oz sugar; 1 tbsp honey; ¼ tsp ground cardamom

Put the beetroots and their juices into a small pan. Add 200ml/7floz plus two tablespoons of water and bring to the boil over high heat.

Turn the heat down to medium and cook, stirring frequently, for five to seven minutes until the beetroots are tender. Add the sugar.

Cook over medium heat, stirring, for six to seven minutes. The texture of the mixture should be almost jam-like.

Reduce the heat to low. Add the honey. Stir and cook for four to five minutes.

Add the cardamom. Stir once and remove from the heat. Cool and bottle.

The chutney will keep for a week.

Blackberry Chutney

3kg (6lb) blackberries; 1kg (2lb) cooking apples; 1kg (2lb) onions, chopped; 1kg (2lb) soft brown sugar; 1¼ litres (2 pints) vinegar; 25g (1oz) salt; 50g (2oz) mustard (dry powder or mustard seeds); 50g (2oz) ground ginger; 10ml (2 tsp) ground mace; 5ml (1tsp) cayenne pepper. Yields about 4kg (8lb)

Wash the blackberries and put them into a preserving pan. Peel and core the apples and chop them. Add to the blackberries with the onions, sugar, vinegar, seasoning and spices. Simmer for 1¼ hours until thick, stirring well. Put the chutney into hot jars, cover and seal. [From The Preserving Book]

Orange Chutney

6 thin skinned oranges; 250g (8oz) onions, chopped; 500g (1lb) dates, stoned; 625ml (1 pint) vinegar; 10ml (2tsp) ground ginger; 10ml (2tsp) salt. Yields about 2kg (4lbs)

Peel the oranges and remove the pips. Chop the oranges and put into a preserving pan with their juice, the onions and the dates. Add the vinegar, ginger and salt, and stir well. Cook for one hour until golden brown and thick. Put into hot jars, cover and seal. [From The Preserving Book]

Rhubarb Chutney

A recipe from Thurso, courtesy of Elizabeth Craig’s The Scottish Cookery Book.

1lb sliced rhubarb; 1 peeled lemon; ½oz chopped, peeled garlic; ½oz bruised root ginger; 1lb moist brown sugar; ½ pint vinegar; dash of cayenne pepper; 1½lb washed sultanas; ½oz salt

Place the rhubarb, sliced lemon, garlic and all other ingredients in an enamel lined saucepan. Stir over low heat till sugar is dissolved, then until boiling. Boil till thick, stirring frequently, then pot and seal.

Uncooked Apple & Pear Chutney

450g sharp apples; 450g sharp pears; 25g root ginger; 2 cloves garlic; 450g raisins; 450g white sugar; 600ml cider vinegar; 2tsp salt; 1tsp chilli powder

Peel and core the apples and pears, and finely chop with the root ginger and garlic.

Mix them thoroughly with all the other ingredients, cover and leave in a cool, dark place for three days.

Bottle the chutney in sterilised jars. It will be ready to use in about a month.

[From The Full English Cassoulet: Making Do and Other Improvisations in the Kitchen, by Richard Mabey].


Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe, taken from his mother Jane’s cookbook, The Ministry of Food: Thrify Wartime Ways To Feed Your Family Today.

½tsp each of cloves, black peppercorns and coriander seeds; small piece of muslin, roughly 10cm (4in) square; 675g (1lb 8oz) green tomatoes; 675g (1lb 8oz) overgrown courgettes or marrows, peeled if using marrows and diced in 1cm (½in) pieces; 675g (1lb 8oz) cooking apples, peeled, cored and diced (windfalls are fine); 250g (9oz) onions, peeled and roughly chopped; 250g (9oz) sultanas or raisins; 250g (9oz) light brown sugar; 375ml (13fl oz) white wine or cider vinegar; 200ml (7fl oz) water; 1-2 tsp dried chilli flakes; ½tsp salt; ½ tsp ground ginger

Prepare a spice bag by tying the cloves, peppercorns and coriander seeds into a square of muslin.

To peel the tomatoes, pour boiling water over them and leave for one minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into cold water. After 30 seconds, the skins will slip off easily.

Chop the tomatoes and place them with the rest of the ingredients in a large, heavy pan. Push the spice bag into the middle of the pan.

Heat gently, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil, then simmer on a low heat for one hour, stirring regularly to stop it burning.

The chutney’s ready when it is rich, thick and reduced, and parts to reveal the base of the pan when a wooden spoon is dragged through it.

If it starts to dry out before this stage, add a little boiling water. Place in sterilised jars with plastic coated screw tops lids while warm, but not boiling hot.