The name of this blog is a pretty big clue that I’m a Salman Rushdie fan.
The phrase “swallower of lives” is borrowed from the sublime Midnight’s Children, a novel which also coined the phrase “chutnification”, which can be interpreted as a metaphor for preserving memories in the same way that you preserve fruit and vegetables as chutney.
With chutney, the lengthy steeping with acid and aromatics will inevitably affect the flavour and texture. In the same way, memories mature, mellow and morph over time too.
My parents had just harvested a bumper crop from their bramley apple tree and one of the best ways to enjoy something good for as long as possible is to make chutney.
The toughest bit of the process was tripling the quantities to account for the ridiculous amount of apples.
Otherwise it was just lots of chopping and chucking everyone into a big pot.
We actually ended up using two, we had so much.
Making chutney is a lovely way to get in the mood for colder months and long cosy evenings indoors.
We used this recipe as a guide, adapted for the vast quantities:
675g onions, chopped
2.7 kg apples, cored and chopped
330g sultanas, raisins or chopped dates
45g ground coriander
45g mixed spice
1kg granulated sugar
1,275 ml pints malt vinegar
Put all the ingredients into a large saucepan and bring to the boil until the sugar dissolves. Simmer for two hours, stirring from time to time to stop the chutney sticking to the pan.
When it is very thick and you can draw a wooden spoon across the base of the pan so that it leaves a channel behind it that does not immediately fill with liquid, the chutney is ready.
Turn into sterilised jars, seal and cool.
I didn’t have enough mixed spice so I added a little extra cinnamon. It’s a sharp, spicy, lip-smacking chutney to have with cheese boards, cold meats, sandwiches. It’s even better if you leave it in a cupboard for a few weeks before eating.
If any of the jars last until then, they also make great Christmas presents.