This blog post sees me combine the two themes of Lots of Nice Things, a recipe for a Hot Tomato and Baby Gherkin Chutney, stored in jam jars decorated with crochet doilies.
Christmas is certainly a time to get creative – and I thought these little jars of sweet and spicy chutney would make lovely presents. The doilies can be used afterwards as coasters or table decorations.
The chutney is very easy to make, provided you pay attention to a couple of steps in particular; sterilizing your jam jars and letting the chutney mixture boil rapidly, while stirring it, then allowing it to simmer for a good few hours for it to thicken.
Sterilizing jam jars
This recipe makes around 1kg/2lb of chutney, which will fill around 6 jam jars. Wash them thoroughly in hot soapy water and scrub to remove all traces of labels. Rinse. One method of sterilization is to lay the clean jars and lids on a baking tray and place them on a low heat in the oven for 30 mins.
Removing the skin from tomatoes
Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water in a large saucepan for a minute, before plunging them into cold water. The skins will come away easily once pierced.
Hot Tomato and Baby Gherkin Chutney
Makes 6 jars
Preparation/cooking time 4 hours +
2kg/1lb tomatoes, skins removed, then roughly chopped
450g/1lb onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
100g/3.5oz baby gherkins, sliced
2″ piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4 medium red chillies
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
340g/12oz dark brown soft sugar
1/2 pint malt vinegar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1. Place all the ingredients in a large stainless steel saucepan. Mix everything in well.
2. Bring to the boil and allow to bubble rapidly for several minutes, stirring constantly with a large wooden spoon.
3. Now turn the pan down to simmer. Allow it to cook for at least 3 hours, or longer if needed, until the chutney is thick and resembles syrup. Do not rush this stage. If necessary, re-boil and simmer until the chutney is greatly reduced and sticky.
4. Spoon into jars while hot, leaving a 1cm gap at the top. Store in a cool dark place for at least 1 month before using.
Crochet Jam Jar Doilies
Use double knitting yarn, or cotton of a similar thickness, with a 4mm hook. Make the doilies in one colour, or change colour at any point as you go around. Start with 2ch, then make 6dc into the second chain from the hook. Join the circle with a slip stitch.
Continue by working two stitches into each stitch in the first row, then into every other stitch in the following row, every third stitch in the third row. Continue to increase using this format until the disk becomes as large as you want it. For a medium-sized jar, my doily had 5 rounds, with a total of 66 sts all the way around.
Have fun getting creative this Christmas!