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Have you always wanted to make your own chutney? Here's your chance! Follow along with this tutorial and you'll have your own delicious treat in next to no time.

A friend of mine recently went on holiday and asked me to house-sit for her — besides looking after her chickens and cats, and making sure her teenagers didn't burn the house down, she also mentioned that her plum trees would be offering ripe plums sometime soon. She told me to make good use of them if I could. As I really hate jam, I decided to look for other options. Enter chutney.

Chutney is something really, really like. In case you don't know what it is, I suppose you can best describe it as a hearty type of jam that's a wonderful side dish to go with Indian food, mostly on thin crackers called papadums. It's also nice with a bit of cheese, or to give away to other people, who will then be impressed with your exotic cooking skills.

Making chutney is no harder than making jam, though some of the ingredients may be a bit more tricky to obtain. Here I'll be talking you through the process I used to make plum chutney. It turned out to be absolutely delicious — a claim confirmed by the fact that it's now already gone — and it was absolutely worth the time and work it took. You can see what it looked like in the picture above. 

Though this example uses plums, you can also choose peaches, figs, tomatoes, mango, apricot and probably other fruits instead, and still follow the rest of the recipe. If you don't have any fresh fruits in the garden, you can obviously buy them from a shop too. 

First Things First: How To Sterilize Your Jars

Luckily for me, I had a lot of empty jars saved up for all kinds of occassions. This seemed to be a good time to use them. I gathered the ripe plums — there were plenty of them, about two kilos all told — and when I got home I first sterilized my eight jars. Because I also sometimes make wine, I already had everything I needed to sterilize jars, but you may need to buy some of the ingredients listed below. 

Here's how you sterilize your jars:

  • You'll need a medium-sized plastic basin or your kitchen sink.
  • Put a few teaspoons of sulphite and a little bit more citric acid in there.
  • Add really hot but not necessarily boiling water to your basin. 
  • Then you put the jars and their lids in.
  • Leave them to soak while you are busy dealing with the chutney-making part of the process.
It is really important to sterilize your jars. If you don't, you'll be stuck with moldy chutney. The same goes for jam, or really anything that you make and want to preserve for a long time. Do not skip this step, or you'll be sorry.

Making Your Chutney

Note: This description assumes you are working with about two kilos of plums, but I usually don't use strict measurements and basically just "wing it".
First off, take the stones out of your plums. This is a messy old process (at least if you're naturally messy like me), so I suggest you wear an apron or clothes you don't mind throwing away afterwards. Yes, plums stain. As you finish removing the stones from your individuals, place them into the pan in which you will make the chutney. I have a special "jam pan", but if you don't, it's good to use a large saucepan with a thick bottom. Choose stainless steel if you have it.
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