It’s picking season in our gardens and hedgerows with lots of free fruit around if you are willing to spend a little time foraging for it.
After chatting with friends and seeing the national news over the last few months, we are all aware that the weather has played a huge part in the growing season this year. In some parts of the country the weather was too cold for the bees to pollinate when the flowers were in bloom, so the fruit was unable to form and set. Last year was very different with branches heavily laden with fruit waiting to be picked.
So if you have managed to spot blackberries and sloes near to you that are ready for picking along with wind fallen apples, now is the time to start thinking about making those apple pies and fruit chutneys for Christmas.
What a treat it is to have your own home-made chutney with regional cheese and biscuits, for a supper on a cold winter’s evening or with your festive meals.
I spotted this apple tree hanging over the fence at work
My mum always made the most delicious chutney and used a recipe that I have been unable to replicate since. However, my father has now turned into the chutney King, with the prized condiment a sought after gift at any time of the year, but especially at Christmas.
With lashings of dark rich bottled fruit maturing in the over-flowing pantry ready for opening, it is a real treat. However, hiding the bottle in the cupboard so no-one else can taste and being in charge of the spoon when serving guests has to be a must!
I painstakingly eke out teaspoons full of chutney from the air tight bottles trying to make it last; it has become an art form in its own right. It’s not that I don’t want guests to have any, but I just don’t want them to have too much of the delicious mixture, which when it’s gone, it’s gone for another year.
My dad’s home-made Apple Chutney
I have found a recipe for a Date and Apple Chutney from Delia which I hope that you will enjoy and can be eaten with cold meats and cheeses at any time of the year.
Preparation is the key to everything when you are cooking. Make sure that you have all the ingredients before you get your hands in to the bowl; then realising that you are missing one vital ingredient and need to go to the shop again is not a good look with sticky fingers.
While you are sitting in the warmth of your conservatory, eating your home made chutney; just say a little thank you to the weather, bees and fruit trees in your garden for all their hard work over the year. Why not raise a small glass of sloe gin made from the fruit in your garden hedgerow and toast their success for the year?
Do you have any ideas for using autumn fruit or vegetables? We would love to hear about your recipes.