Making your own preserves has become very fashionable, so don't get left behind!

Chutney, relish, pickle, atchar, salsa... These are a few variations of a condiment I'm sure everyone has at least one jar of in their fridge! Ireland has a long tradition of making delicious chutneys and preserves, so I set out to broaden my knowledge on one of my favourite topics. I spent the day with Janet from 'Janet's Country Fayre' fame, to learn about her business and the art of making chutney.

Looking for something to keep the kids busy this summer? How about making and bottling your own chutney? These can be given as wonderful gifts at any time of year. We have an abundance of summer fruit, perfect for turning into tangy, sweet, spicy chutneys! Making your own preserves has become very fashionable, so don't get left behind! It is very satisfying and rewarding seeing all those full bottles lined up filled with the fruits of your labour.

The Tradition
Chutney is an age old method for preserving fruit and vegetables. Vinegar is the most essential ingredient in preserving chutneys as it inhibits the growth of bacteria and moulds. Sugar and salt also have natural preservative actions and balance the flavour of the tart vinegar to give chutney its characteristic sweet and sour flavour. Spices add flavour and depth which matures over time in homemade chutney.

Definitions
Chutney: Chutney is made by boiling up fresh or dried fruit or vegetables with sugar, vinegar and spices till it reaches the consistency of jam. Chutney can vary in consistency from chunky to smooth.


Relish: A relish is quite similar to a chutney but usually of a pouring consistency.


Achar: Consists of whole or chopped fruit and vegetables preserved in a spiced vinegar. Typical in Indian cuisine.


Pickles: Are young, firm fruit and vegetables that have been salted to remove excess moisture then preserved in a pickling liquid which consists of salt, sugar, vinegar, water and spices.


Salsa: This is a fresh condiment of chopped fruits and vegetables which d flavoured and seasoned. A salsa is not cooked.

 

Sterilising Jars and Bottling
1) If collecting used glass jars, make sure the lids fit securely and haven't been bashed or dinged. Any air getting into the preserve will contaminate it.


2) Give the bottles and lids a good wash and rinse well. Try to get the labels off. Boiling the bottles in a large pot of water is very effective.


3) Preheat an oven to 150°C and dry the clean bottles for 10-15 minutes.


4) Using a funnel, pour the hot chutney into the hot bottles. Close with the lid immediately.

 

Useful Contacts
www.janetscountryfayre.com

For more on Rozanne Stevens and her work as a wholefood chef, visit: www.rozannestevens.com.

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