10 jars of chutney sitting on the shelf…….

Filed in Blog by on September 23, 2008 15 Comments
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home made chutney for zero food waste
Waheeee – I made chutney!

I have to say, I feel rather proud of myself. I worked out the costings this morning, and I’ve saved heaps. With better planning (it ended up being a rather spontaneous event) I could have pushed the cost down further.

And how is this for recycling – Yes ladies and gentlemen, I cut up one of Mr Green’s old t-shirts to make a ‘muslin bag’ for the spices. I couldn’t find any muslin or anything resembling it in the house. As it was Sunday when the realisation of I-must-make-chutney-and-I-must-make-it-now descended upon me I had to think on my feet before my culinary Goddess upped and left in a sulk from lack of attention.

It was one of Mr Green’s favourite t-shirts, but it was thread bare. So it went, without mercy for the chop. We even cut a thin strip of material to tie the bag up with. Little did Mr Green realise that it was so threadbare, when I pulled the thread it snapped and I whacked my knuckles on the worktop. Imagine if that had happened when he had been wearing it. We would have had all those lovely ladies in the Co-Op drooling at him again.  But I doubt he would have got a juicy pair of melons or a lovely bunch of coconuts in a jumpabag made from this.

The chutney making marathon was not without its dramas. Apart from my scraped knuckles, I ended up with 500gms of chopped tomatoes on the floor. The whole board slid off the worksurface and onto the floor, via my foot. Ouch! Little Miss Green burst into tears (why do they do that when it’s your drama and your foot and your owie?), the cat had a lucky escape with a few tomato seeds stuck in her tail and I had to decide whether to throw away the tomatoes or press on true ‘no food waste’ fashion, dust them off and throw them into the simmering mix anyway…………

But you know what lengths a zero waste woman will go to for her family and the environment. So I soldiered on, blood shod, until my duties were done.

I’m now the proud owner of 10 large jars of marrow chutney – about 440g size jars and it cost between six and seven pounds. It’s impossible to tell for sure because I can’t calculate the electricity useage for the hob. It’s a shame harvest doesn’t fall in the middle of winter, I could chutneytise to my hearts content for nothing, on top of the woodburner.

I feel very righteous about my lack of food waste, because marrows in this house are fit for one place only – the compost bin. Courgettes I love, marrows are gag worthy. Yet they grow overnight in our soil. One day you have a courgette that is just a tiny bit too small to pick. A night of rain and you wake up to a marrow that will feed the five thousand.

Our neighbour’s favourite treat was stuffed marrow, but sadly he is now in an old people’s home, so he no longer relieves me of such garden, erm, treasures. I decided to name the creation ‘Lawrence Chutney’ in honour of him.

I followed the beautifully named ‘glutney’ recipe that Tracey directed me to over on the River Cottage. It smells good at this stage, but of course, I need to leave it for a couple of months before we can reach a true verdict. No actually, I’m lying. I’m fed up to the back teeth of the smell of vinegar permeating my home. I really need that smell to go now. It’s in my clothes, my hair and the fabrics of our house. So it smells like vinegar, but I feel confident it will taste great once time has weaved her magic.

I had a bit of a panic because after three hours I had nothing resembling chutney at all. I had some diced vegtetables swimming around in hot vinegar. It looked awful. So I strained some of the liquid off and let it reduce for a bit more.

I finally gave up, mashed it with a potato masher and then thought, porrage. No, I didn’t chuck some oats in, but I remember that on some days my porrage resembles watery liquid with a few oats swimming about in it, and that as it cools it thickens up. Low and behold I learned the same happens to chutney! So worry ye not my friends if you make chutney and have something very watery looking at the end of the cooking. As it cools it thickens. Honest, would I lie to you?

I have, however realised a faux pax. Not all my tops have a plastic coatings inside, so I might have some exciting science experiment awaiting me in a couple of months time. Ah well; it was a great learning experience and I do feel very Earth Mother about it all.

So now I’m all fired up and ready to raid the greenhouse for some green tomatoes. Green tomato chutney anyone?!


About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (15)

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  1. Yay! Well done you! I don’t like chutney so won’t be making it, but jam making has a certain appeal and I may have a bash at that if I get enough fruit in the garden next year.

  2. maisie clark says:

    Well Done!!!

    I must admit I quite like the smell of chutney as it cooks.

  3. Hi Mrs Green,

    Chutney is something I have never come across. It is good to see you expanding your baking/cooking knowledge. The baking bug is infectious and I am sure there are other readers with good recipes. I feel a Zero Waste cookery book coming on. Can you feel the vibe, Mrs G?

  4. Denise says:

    well done you gorgeous mama you

  5. Marie Phillips says:

    Well done with your first chutney. I’ve never tried costing the chutneys, jams etc that I make, but as I give a lot away as presents, I feel they earn their keep very well. And it is so Earth Motherish to have a cupboard full of homemade stuff.

    As for the tomatoes on the floor: my sister has what she calls a 10 second rule – if she drops anything in the kitchen she reckons she can beat any germs it might collect if she can gather it up within 10 seconds. Well, it works for her!

  6. Poppy says:

    I’m a bit of a Branston freak if anyone has a recipe for that. Chutney just isn’t the same, but well done Mrs G 🙂

    DH made some Green Tomato Chutney a couple of years ago that he is very proud of and I made Tomato Jam.

  7. Mrs Green says:

    Thank you all! John, I can certainly feel the zero waste cookery book vibe LOL!

    I’ve not tried jam making, Sarah, but I think I’d like to have a go now. I need to think what type would be best or easiest to start with.

    The 10 second rule is a neat idea, Marie!

    Tomato Jam, Poppy – I assume that is a savoury thing rather than sweet?

  8. maisie clark says:

    Jams are also fairly easy it is just making sure you boil the jam enough to reach a setting point.

    I have a batch of Lemon & Lime marmalade steeping at the moment to be finished off later on tonight.

  9. sally says:

    Jams definetely the next step Mrs G.
    I have a fab hedgerow jelly recipe is you would like it?
    I use an unbleached cotton pillowcase instead of a jelly bag.

  10. Poppy says:

    Just jam jam Mrs G! I was inspired by memories of my Gran making Tomato and Ginger Jam. When we had a glut of them a couple of years ago, I searched the internet for a recipe. DH wasn’t keen, but DS didn’t make any comment one way or the other when I put it on his toast 🙂

  11. Mrs Green says:

    Jelly bags and setting points; now I’m lost already! I’d better go over and browse some articles on the Delia Smith site. Lemon and lime used to be one of my favourites as a child, Maisie. Is making jam the same as marmalade? And how do you make the rind free stuff?

    Sally, I would like your recipe please; that sounds great 🙂

    Jam jam – ok then Poppy; I think I understand 😀

  12. What in the world are marrow and courgettes???

    Yeah, I’m American. LOL

  13. Mrs Green says:

    😀 I believe you call them zucchini.

  14. sally says:

    I will pop the recipe up later hun. Jelly bag is how you make bit free jams. Great for blackberries, raspberries, damsons etc. Setting point is less scary than it sounds basically after you have boiled the mix for so many minutes you put a teaspoon of mix onto a cold plate leave it a few minutes then push it with your finger and if it wrinkles its good (the only time i am grateful for wrinkles! 🙂

  15. Mrs Green says:

    Ahhh, thanks Sally. I was thinking I had to do scary things with thermometers and getting things to the right temperature for a period of time and all manner of organised things that are too structured for my disorganised brain.
    Wrinkles, I can manage a couple of those 😉

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