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Sunday, 26 August 2012

Gerroff my damsons!

This is not the best year for plums of any sort and I was lucky to get some damsons from my tree. I only managed 1 kilo as much of the fruit was already succumbing to brown rot (Monilinia, or Moniliose as we call it in France) and flies were already moving in on some of the better fruit. Needless to say I only picked the healthy fruit as I knew which ones the flies had been after as they were soft and squidgy.

I found the different kinds of flies fighting over the fruit rather interesting so (you probably know me by now!) I couldn't resist taking some photos of them. If this is not your sort of thing then scroll down to the chutney making photos and the recipe! :-)

Big fly has its head over the hole eating the flesh whilst smaller fly looks on enviously.

I love this pic as the big fly is kicking the blue/green bottle out the way!

This is one of the fruit affected by Monilinia (brown rot) - the tell tale signs of mould
on the surface are a giveaway. No idea what this fly or any of the other flies are.
Hoverflies are more my sort of thing!

The same two flies that were in the top photo with some healthy fruit in the background.

Right. So if you are still with me I'll move swiftly on to chutney making!!

This recipe is adapted from a recipe called "Red Tomato and Fruit Relish" from a preserving book called "Art of Preserving" by Jan Berry. I have changed both the dried and fresh fruit and the type of vinegar, but kept her original quantities and spices, so leave the credit there for her.

Mixed Fruit Chutney

250ml cider vinegar
310g brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5cm piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon celery seeds
2 teaspoons sea salt
1.5kg damsons, weight before de-stoning and roughly chopping
0.5kg apples, peeled, cored and chopped
0.5kg tomatoes, peeled and chopped
250g dates, chopped
250g dried apricots, chopped
125g golden sultanas
125g raisins
Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Place the vinegar and the sugar in a large, nonreactive pan over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the garlic, ginger, curry powder, cloves, cinnamon, pepper, mustard and celery seeds and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 1 minute, over medium heat.

Add the remaining ingredients and return the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 2 hours or until the chutney thickens.

Ladle it into hot jars straight out of the oven which you have sterilised at 120C for half an hour and seal immediately.

The jars can be opened after 1 month. 

All the fresh and dried fruit prepared - it does take time.
Note, there are NO critters in these damsons. I always check!

Chutney mixture ready after 2 hours of slow simmering.

Finished. Just needed labelling when cold.
Actually it's a little disappointing to only have 7 jars, but really 2 jars is enough
for me, and the rest make great gifts for friends and family!

Bon appetit!


  1. Looks wonderful, i do have one question. Can i keep the apples out or use a replacement like pears? I love apples, but since a year or so i have become allergic to them, even when they have been cooked

    1. Hi Petra - of course you can. I'm always playing around with chutney recipes. The original recipe is for 2kg tomatoes and 500g apples, so as long as you make up 2.5kg of the main fresh fruit you could have just plums and tomatoes, or plums, tomatoes and pears. I think you need to remember that tomatoes and plums are quite juicy fruits whereas pears are not so much, so I wouldn't try 2kg pears and 500g tomatoes, as the liquid contents may be different which could affect the chutney.

      Good luck! :-)

  2. Thank you for your wonderful and quick answer :) I am going to try it with the 500 g pears then

  3. Brilliant read and yes........ I would be happy to accept a jar of chutney. (get in first I say)

    1. Carl - The 2012 batch is long gone. ;-) However I am still eating some of the 2013 batch (no damsons in it) and 2014 needs to mature first. You are welcome to a jar but it's a long way to come to collect it. :-)