Hello Autumn! Apple Chutney & Jams.

Today is officially the first day of Autumn. Having spent the weekend raking crispy red maple leaves and ornamental pears, I thought that Autumn had arrived!

So it is also the time for preserving nature’s gifts – particularly, in our case, our glut of rhubarb (rhubarb being one of the easiest ‘rabbit proof’ plants…)

I never harvest all the rhubarb stalks from our plants; always leaving a very good quantity to die back, returning the nutrients in the thick pink stalks and vast leaves to the roots to support next year’s healthy growth.

I started with the obligatory Apple and Rhubarb chutney. We eat gallons of it, ringing the changes with different spices or partners in each batch, working from a basic recipe – each year I get more confident with variations, but in a chutney you can’t really go far wrong with spices (dried, as well as fresh ginger and home grown chilli), vegetables, fresh and dried fruit. See a basic Apple & Rhubarb recipe here (I chopped the whole, unpeeled oranges up and included, rather than just adding juice): https://www.olivemagazine.com/recipes/entertain/rhubarb-and-apple-chutney/

Next, more rhubarb chutney whilst also starting on Jam; Apple (of course!) and Strawberry, Apple & Raspberry, then Apple & Blackberry – tiny wild berries picked from the hedgerow edging the field. The basic rule for jam is equal quantities of fruit and preserving sugar – here is a recipe that’s good for adapting! https://www.fabfood4all.co.uk/easy-blackberry-apple-jam/

Finally, Crab apple jelly. Again, different batches ringing different accents in the beautiful jelly which my mother had patiently strained overnight 🙂

We will enjoy sharing our autumn bounty in the year to come, at the table and as gifts for friends. I have a sack or two of apples left, so think that this week there will be more experimentation with flavours in the kitchen, and more wonderful Autumn preserving aromas wafting through the house!

‘Autumn – the season of mists & mellow fruitfulness’ – John Keats

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