Sunday, 20 October 2013

Quick fig chutney

Occasionally when I have overrripe fruit I try to use them up in ways that preserve them, rather than eating them immediately. Bananas get turned into ice cream and I blitz overripe mango into a pulp in the food processor then freeze the coulis in portions.

Figs that are well on the turn make great chutney. The quantity this makes is small - only a couple of tablespoons - but for one person that's plenty. It won't keep, so store it in the fridge and use within a week. It's delicious with roasted or cold meat, or some cheese (especially goat cheese).

What you need: 
2 chopped overripe figs
About 50g leftover blueberries
1 dessert spoonful of raspberry vinegar 
1 heaped dessert spoonful of muscovado sugar

What to do:
Wash all the fruit well - figs can be dusty on the skin and pick out any blueberries that are starting to sprout a soft, white mould. Put everything in a non-aluminium pan. Cook it down over a medium heat until all the juices have thickened and the fruit has broken down - about 10-15 minutes. Pour into a clean (preferably sterilised) jar and let it cool. Put a lid on and keep in the fridge.

Cook's tips: 
This is the sort of fresh chutney you can whiz up with almost anything - very soft tomatoes, wrinkly apples, squishy apricots or nectarines - just stay away from harder ingredients such as carrots, which take longer to cook. It's important to keep the vinegar and sugar in more or less equal quantities - taste as you go to ensure you have the right balance of sharp and sweet, and don't be afraid to add a pinch of salt.

Because it's fresh, it really won't keep long - it simply doesn't have the array of spices, pectin and other ingredients that go into the kind of preserve you can store long-term. 

To sterilise a jar, wash it well in very hot water with washing-up liquid, rinse well and dry out in a hot oven. If you don't have the lid, as I didn't for the jar above, cling film is fine for a cover but it's a reminder to eat up the contents quickly!