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I do think it’s a kind of alchemy, this chutney-making. In the last days of drowsy summer warmth, when I can feel the heat of the summer on the tomatoes as they go into the pan straight from the plant, I see it as a kind of paying-forward, a pleasure to sample in the winter days ahead. As the onions, apples and spices marry in the pan I like to watch the dark brown velvet of the sugar disappear and then I know I can wander off and let it all just quietly do its mysterious transformation. I do go back and forth and give it a stir but only because I like to interfere and I’m fascinated by the work in progress. At three hours the alchemy is wrought and into the warmed jars it goes. Our customers often ask if we sell it by the jar in the shop, but we don’t as I simply couldn’t make enough. I produce all the cake, chutney and jam (and that’s a whole other sticky story) for serving on our menu and I know if I scaled up and it became a production line then the slow unfolding magic of the process would be lost for me. Beyond that full blown summer glut of flavours I now turn my thoughts to our Christmas offering and the character and flavours will deepen - more plum, cardamom, ginger, raisins and cranberries - and a whole orange which will sit at the bottom of the preserving pan quietly softening and yielding up its aromatic oils until it floats to the top of the ruby liquid. And then into the pots it goes and it feels like the seasons, whatever else is happening, are quietly turning just as they should and there’s goodness to look forward to.
Higgler baker, head of the jammery and chutney nut.