Green Tomato Chutney along the shimmering waters of the Staffs & Worcester

As I write the mirror-like surface of the water at Tixal Wide reflects the verdant hedgerows in shimmering splendour while the moored narrowboats crouch above their ghostly dopplegangers, which haunt the unaccustomed vastness of the water’s width.

Not even the wind whispers.  Wand’ring Bark‘s hull sends ripples through the glassy surface and the ghosts are sent skittering away.

Finally, I have taken up my usual seat, at the pointy end, to drink in this moment, while the batch of Green Tomato Chutney cools in its jars, waiting to be tucked away .  I have thrown caution to the wind, on account of the weather, and have donned a short skirt.  Normally, this attire would not even rank a mention.  However, last week I decided to embark in another spot Crowd Surfing sans Crowd.  It is not I sport I feel is going to catch on, despite my best efforts.  Or perhaps because of them.  I should add, that the resultant damage was positively minor compared with last November but nevertheless I have been left with a bruise of approximately 7 x 8 inches.  Right on the inside of my left leg, just above my knee.  So, the nice legs, shame about the face, card can no longer be played which is a pity.

Of course, the minute this happened, the weather improved.  Indeed, I may have stumbled, quite literally, upon a reliable way of summoning sunshine.  Could be a painful way of forecasting though.  All week, I have remained covered but today, I have decided enough.  The legs are out.  In celebration therefore, what have I done but remain indoors all morning making chutney.  Bizarre.  But green tomatoes are no respecter of sunshine, regardless of whose legs are on display.

The Captain’s tomato plants have all fallen victim to Leaf Mould.  The advice is to give up on this season, dig up, disinfect and start again next year.  As we did have some green fruit, before we left the house yesterday, I stripped the plants and brought all the green tomatoes with me along with The Cottage Smallholder’s recipe for chutney.  Predictably, I didn’t have everything I needed but I have managed to follow it pretty faithfully this time.  I’ll give you the quantities and variations I used.  Among the many things we have forgotten to bring, a jar of chutney is one so while most of these jars will get their full month to mature, at least one won’t!

Green Tomato Chutney

1 1/2 Kg green tomatoes, chopped

1 small red onion, chopped

2 lemons, quartered, then sliced very thinly

150g raisins

375g soft brown sugar (mine was a mix with Demerara)

thumb sized piece of root ginger, peeled and grated

5 fat garlic cloves, crushed

2 chillies, (1 green, 1 red) de-seeded and finely chopped

The juice from 1 1/2 oranges

375mls white wine vinegar

3 cloves

8 cardamon pods, seeds only

1 large star anise

3/4 tsp allspice berries

1 1/2 tsp black peppercorns

3 heaped tsp coriander seeds

3 heaped tsp turmeric powder

Good grinding of black pepper

3/4 tsp yellow mustard seeds

1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine everything, except sugar, in a large preserving pan and mix thoroughly.  Bring slowly up to simmering point.  Add sugar and stir constantly until sugar dissolved.  Simmer chutney stirring occasionally, until thickened and you are able to draw the spoon across the pan revealing its base.  Spoon into sterilised jars and seal.  Allow to mature for 4 weeks if possible.