It must be the season of purple preserves...fig jam, elderberry cordial, and now perhaps one of my top five chutneys. I find Beetroot chutney is great way of getting some bright colour onto winter cold plates. It goes really well with some our favourites: goat's cheese, chickpeas, cold meats, home made coleslaws, avocado and other salads.
It makes just the ideal Christmas present for friends who like preserves. Maybe give the jar with my recipe for Boxing Day salad. Great with cold turkey, ham etc., and no need to boil up beetroot to add that depth of flavour to something like a Russian salad, just mix in some cold diced salad potatoes, and other cold cooked veg, a little mayo, and a good quantity of this chutney. Well my Dad always used to add beetroot to Russian salad. A Swedish friend said that it was just like the salads they make in Sweden.
I've made Beetroot Chutney for at least 10 years. Of course I always planted several rows of beetroot when I had my allotment. Yesterday I could not resist the bunches at the market. The leaves signaled freshly dug globes. This year as it is still so warm, I did not feel like having the oven on for a couple of hours whilst they roasted, so instead they got 15 minutes in the pressure cooker.
With various books out on the table and other searches, I found that my recipe from last year was about the best. I made a variation to one the spices, inspired by Nigel's Salter comment in his Book 'Tender', that cumin could be included in any beetroot dish, deciding to add this to the chutney this year.
Of course you can scale up or down....
Beetroot Chutney Recipe 2014
1Kg cooked beetroot, skinned
400g red onions
500g cooking apples, cored
750g cider vinegar, I use Biona Organic cider vinegar
350g soft brown sugar
1 tsp cumin
1tsp ground ginger
1tsp ground allspice
Pour the vinegar into the preserving pan, then add the spices. While this is heating up chop the red onion finely and pop that into the vinegar on the stove. They chop the cooking apple, and add that together with the raisins, sugar, spices and salt to the pan. Bring to the boil again, and reduce the heat to a simmer. From the start to the end, stir from time to time, to make sure that the bottom does not catch, and that all the vegetables mix in the sauce. Then simmer the whole lot for about 30 minutes.
Whilst this is going on, there is time to chop the beetroot. It is easy to make a nice neat small dice, the size you will want it on your plate.
Add the beetroot to the cooking pot, and continue the occasional stir, whilst on a gentle simmer, until the veg to sauce balance is to your liking. I simmered gently for about one hour.
Pot up into sound jars which have been well washed and dried out in the oven. You must use vinegar proof lids. As you ladle the chutney into the jars, press down with the back of a teaspoon, to remove trapped air, and be sure that there is liquid to the top of the veg. Only leave a small gap at the top of the jar, about 1/2 cm, beneath the lid. Wipe the jars and label. This time it yielded 8 x 340g jars, and a little 'tasting' jar.
Keep in a cool dark cupboard, best after 6 weeks, and wonderful up to 2 years thereafter! Once opened if you are not likely to eat it up within a couple of weeks, I recommend keeping it in the fridge and use within a few weeks, but I suggest that after one month, you either don't like it, or have forgotten it was there, and have opened a second one by mistake!
It would make a wonderful Ruby Wedding Anniversary Present for the couple who has it all.