Towpath Chutney

Today is one of those days to glory in the delights of boating.

I have taken up my customary position at the pointy end (see pic below!), am basking in the August sunshine, which is English summer day perfect (beautifully sunny with enough chill to need long sleeves), and admiring the Captain as he sweats his way up the Huddersfield Narrow locks. As I sip my freshly brewed coffee, I cannot help but reflect that whoever first decided to build a canal that crossed the Pennines must have been mad as a box of ferrets. But, by ‘eck, I’m glad tha did, lad! It’s simply stunning. Quite the loveliest canal we’ve travelled. Ok, so the locks leak, the pounds are shallow, the foraging has been woeful, but even so.

I’ve walked several miles of towpath setting locks, searching for edibles, admiring views but if truth be told I’m rather glad to have a day when all there is to do is to take it all in. When we get back home, I’ll upload some of the Captain’s photos and you’ll see what I mean.

There was one exciting foraging moment. While waiting to enter a lock, we found a small patch of bilberries on the opposite side from the towpath. Quite unreachable without a boat and only enough for the smallest of small snacklets. Hurrah for boaty foraging!

Yesterday was a serious galley day. Among other things I turned the apples, pears and damsons into a very pleasing chutney. We tried some today for lunch and while it will no doubt improve with keeping, it really was very good!

I adapted a recipe of Pam Corbin’s, but I’m sure she won’t mind 😉 To be true to my version, you should gather your pears and damsons from the Calder & Hebble Canal while your apples should come from the New Junction Canal. Good luck with that!

Towpath Chutney

1kg damsons, quartered and stoned

750g pears, peeled, cored and diced

750g apples, peeled, cored and diced

500g onions, finely chopped (mix of red and white)

250g raisins

500g demerara sugar

600ml cider vinegar

1/2 tsp salt

For the spice bag:

50g fresh root ginger, bruised

2 tsp mustard seeds

2 tsp black peppercorns

Make your spice bag by tying up the spices into a 20cm square of muslin. Place in preserving pan with all the other ingredients and bring very slowly to the boil. Stir occasionally. Simmer uncovered for as long as possible until chutney thick – about 3 hours. Pour into warm sterilised jars and seal. Leave to mature for a couple of months if you can!


7 thoughts on “Towpath Chutney

  1. I find it truly amazing the variety of foods you source from the towpath. Are you sure you haven’t been scrumping in t’ vicar’s garden?!

  2. Sounds great. I would love to forage and gather, make chutneys and bake cakes, but don’t have the time with my 2 young kids, 2 jobs and 16 business ideas! I’m off to email you now!

  3. Enjoy the Huddersfield Narrow, we did, it was all over too quick. I missed the bilberries, but found blackberries and plums. In York now, so not so many foraging opportunities here.

    • Not found plums yet, Karen, but hoping they’re on the Lancashire side of the tunnel? Lots of blackberries and found what would have been an enormous patch of raspberries a month ago!

  4. We loved the Huddersfield narrow – we went through many years ago in our old share boat and it was an outstanding experience.

    I’m still foraging in the garden – I have bought a new freezer to store the fruit and may be making a batch of jam a week from now ’til Christmas! I have made 160 pots so far this year…

    There is such an abundance of fruit this year – I hope it’s not the harbinger of a hard winter…

    Sue, nb Indigo Dream

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