Saturday, July 31, 2010

Connemara Blackberry Chutney

To me one of the quintessential tastes of Connemara is soda bread, butter, homemade blackberry jam and sweet tea.

This recipe, an accidental find, is a blackberry chutney that expands the options for a readily available and free resource.

But it is a change, and a new idea in terms of how to use blackberries to make something other than jam - Blackberry Curd is very fine option, as is Blackberry and Beetroot salad.

The cool thing is that fruit, with their high acid content, are less likely to go wrong during the preservation process, so this might be a good one to start with - particularly with the added acidity of the vinegar.

Its going to be a bumper crop this year, that much is obvious from today's walk to pick blackberries.

It was great to see so many blackberries reaching maturity this early in the year, and the plants are weighed down with immature fruit.

Although I struggle with briar's in the veg patch I am lucky in the fact that the walls here are covered with briar's, and with little or no traffic they are clean.
I came across the basis of this recipe due to taking a spin!! As Brillat-Savarin - perhaps in hubris - once wrote "The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a star"

A good friend of mine owns a local store and needed a hand with taking a delivery from a cash and carry.
I went in to see if I could get some allspice, for a Jewish recipe I found for turnips - but no luck there.

However what I did find was Kilner jars - a thing I have wanted for a while, especially after seeing onion preserves photographed on food, flora and felines. Bit sad, but it is a question of catching up with the Joneses, cant have those southerners having their food look better than mine - the cats would never forgive me.

Anyway, getting the jars, they gave a recipe for blackberry chutney. I have never even heard of it so I did a bit of research.
Apparently it is basically a Devon/Cornwall recipe, which is a part of England I love for the food, the surf and the people.

There are a few variations, but he basics are blackberries, chili's, ginger, onion, sugar and wine vinegar.
In this recipe the weights are for standard, but I added a few bits and bobs.

1 tsp Olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
3 cm ginger, finely chopped
2 large red chillies, finely chopped
1 lb blackberries
45 grms brown sugar
30 ml (one fluid ounce) white wine vinegar

1 cooking apple, cored, peeled, diced
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp honey
1/2 combined tsp (i.e. - 1/2 a teaspoon of all, not of each) of:
Mustard seed, crushed
Coriander seed, crushed
Cumin seed, crushed

1: Heat the olive oil in a heavy based pan, add onion, chili and ginger
(I also at this point added the spices and lemon zest)

2: Fry gently for 4-5 minutes until softened, do not overcook.

3: Add blackberries and cook for 3-4 minutes
(I also at this point added the apple, lemon juice and honey)

4: Add sugar and vinegar, mixing well

5: Bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 mins or until thickened.

6: While the chutney is still hot, transfer to into hot, sterilised jars.
Then move to canning bath as described in Malt & Mustard Pickles

Delicious served with goat cheese and crusty bread, but it can be used as a chutney with other dishes, I'm looking forward to having it with bacon wrapped rounds of goat cheese.
I will add photos to this post in about 3 weeks, unless I am back at work.

This recipe has a real salt and sweet flavor, but should not be eaten for at least two weeks after jarring.
That's easier said than done, every pickle so far has either been eaten or given away as a gift.

And that kind of brings it to mind - why, with the availability of good, cheap pickles, preserves and chutneys do I bother with so much work? It does seem quite impractical
Well, I think it is important to know how to preserve food, I can milk a cow, catch a fish, skin a rabbit, butcher a lamb etc. - so there is that primary drive for knowledge.
There is food miles, I wrote before at how shocked I was to be buying garlic from China and onions from New Zealand - when these are not particularly seasonal foods.
But, perhaps, most importantly, maybe it is a labour of love.
For many people, pickling and preserving are a family way of life - a custom handed down through generations.
Its also great to have home grown, fresh from the garden preserves, pickles, chutneys and jams that can provide variety to the table.
On having variety and range in food - and cooking -Again I must quote Brillat-Savarin once wrote "The Creator, who made man such that he must eat to live, causes him to eat by means of appetite, and for a reward gives him pleasure in eating"
Most importantly of all perhaps is the giving of food as a gift - this is particularly true of food you have made or grown yourself.
I am not a religious person by any stretch of the imagination, but there are so many references in the bible, koran and other texts it is hard to ignore how fundamental and intimate the sharing of food is.
Across all cultures, the sharing of food is for joyful occasions, weddings, births and holidays.
I will have an excess of food - the koran says
Food for two suffices three; and food for three suffices four
That simply means to share.
A fundamental part of christianity is the last supper, the gathering together and sharing of food.
In Nehimiah 8:10 it says "Go and enjoy choice food ..... and send some to those who have nothing prepared"
And by digging up these recipes, and sharing them with others on the world wide web, maybe that is an extension of sharing food, and maybe that explains why I do this blog.
My garden makes me happy, so perhaps the most relevant quote I can think of is one of Buddhas sayings -
“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

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  1. Going to try this as an alternative when I have more jars, there are blackberries everywhere, and I have made plenty of jam. Thanks for the recipe.

  2. Spotted this recipe in the same place you did. Glad you wrote it up on line, and going to try it.
    How well does it store? or is that silly question ;)

    1. Once properly water bathed, storage is good for a year in a cool dark cupboard.

      Just make really sure the thread and lip on the jar, and the lid, are totally spotless.

      Use jars with the nipple indicator on the top, this will let you know if air has started to react in the jar.

      Do read the advice in


  3. Hi,

    Why does it need to go in the canning bath? Chutneys & jams don't usually

    1. Gives a longer shelf life, helps to ensure that the food does not go off

  4. Brilliant recipe - loved the story too!

  5. You waterbath - or use a canning bath - simply to preserve your work and extend the shelf life of your produce


Thanks for commenting - its cool that you took the time