Posted by: Rachael | March 12, 2010

chutney time

Mrs Beeton, of Book of Household Management fame in Victorian England, found a recipe given “by a native” to an English lady in India. The original recipe called for the use of unripe mangos. Mrs Beeton adapted it to English use and substituted apples. I took it a step further today, adapting it to what was cheap at our local vege shop – overripe rockmelons with a few apples thrown in to make up the weight. I figure it’s the spices that make this chutney, so it won’t much matter what fruit is carrying them.

Bengal Recipe for Rock Melon Chutney
(bears little resemblance to Mrs Beeton’s recipe actually!)

1.8kg overripe rock melons, peeled, deseeded and chopped
600g apples, cored and chopped
50g garlic cloves, crushed (that’s two whole heads)
50g onion, finely chopped (I used two small pickling ones, but I think you could use way more)
175g powdered ginger (I used a 5cm piece of fresh, chopped very finely
50g mustard seed (to be honest, it looked two times too much to me – but we’ll see how it tastes)
200g brown sugar (recipe called for 350g, but I only had 200!)
50g fresh red chilli, chopped
125g salt
175g seedless raisins (I used sultanas)
1l malt vinegar (from the smell as it was cooking, this is too much – I think you could get away with using perhaps only half the amount – I’ll try it with apricots later and report back – might even take a piccie)
500ml water
(and other ingredients as per instructions below)
You’re meant to cook the apples first (although not allowing them to break up), dissolve the sugar in water, pound everything else in a mortar and pestle and then infuse the flavours together for ten minutes. I just chucked everything into my big preserving pan, brought it all to the boil, eventually turned it down, then turned it off when I needed the stove for something else.

As it turned out, somewhere in the process something went dreadfully wrong. I suspect it was that soft gently flavoured fruit was inappropriate. Whatever it was, the chutney was (and I quote Rob), “Inedible.” This was a rude thing to say, but it was also true. However, never one to throw food away, I tried to resurrect The Disaster. I added more…and more….and more….and still more bits and bobs (although regretably no onions) in stages until it no longer reminded us of our Gobi Cornish pasties.
Please don’t laugh when you see how much we had to add.

1kg apples, chopped
500g brown sugar
2C sultanas
7kg kiwifruit (yes, seven!!!!)
2 enormous (absolutely humungous) red chillies
1kg green capsicums

We now have A LOT of chutney for the winter….and spring….and next summer….and it’s not in the least bit salty.



  1. Canning is great when you’ve got to make a whole lot of chutney last.

    I want to start canning, but I tend to make soups in gigantic quantities that my family does not eat, so I guess I’ll have to see if there’s any way to can cabbage soup without it getting disgusting.

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