Since it has been in my possession, no strawberry has met its unfortunate end within, my being of the opinion that cooking them or adding sugar is the cruellest thing you can do to a beautiful ripe strawberry. So it's been used to make chutney, the occasional relish, and even a few rare sweet things like damson cheese & apple butter (yes, recipes will be posted. Eventually!). As this is my first attempt, I used cup measurements rather than weighing things out, which I'm more likely to do now, but I really like the ease & simplicity of the cup of this, cup of that approach. You can substitute the dried fruit (and the spice bag) for whatever you have, or whatever you fancy. A honey beer goes well with dried pears & figs, a darker ale goes well with currants & sour cherries. There are lots of dried fruits out there, so let you imagination go nuts.
I've made this recipe many times, and try different beers each time. Real ale, especially brown ales & bitters, work best. Pale ale is too hoppy, and doesn't have that depth of flavour & bitterness that the chutney needs. A spiced ale works surprising well, and honey beer is really special. Basically, as long its a good, well-flavoured beer you'll be making something special! (This beer was made with Thorne Brewery Best Bitter, which is MikeyFox's brewery. I know it's good beer because he makes it!)
2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup beer (there will be some left, so you'd better drink it!)
1 cup dates, chopped
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 cup raisins
1 onion, chopped
4 apples, peeled, deseeded & chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp each of peppercorns & cloves, tied up in a piece of muslin
juice of 1 lemon
Put the dried fruit in a bowl & add the beer. Leave to stand for 20 minutes, so the fruit can get nicely soft & sozzled.
Put the vinegar & sugar in a large pan & bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Tip in the dried fruits & beer & add the remaining ingredients. Stir & simmer for around an hour, or until the mixture is thick & glossy. Fish out the muslin bag of spices (or it could be a nasty mouthful for someone!). Spoon into sterilized jars & tuck away in a cupboard for a month before eating. If well stored, it will last until the next Ice Age*. You may be battling giant radioactive serpents, Cthulhu & his Excessively Limbed KinThings may have eaten next Tuesday, but you'll still have chutney!
For those interested, the Happy Squid T-shirt is from the lovely Kate Beaton, who is right up there with Blackadder & Horrible Histories when it comes to making history disgustingly amusing.
*Honestly. I'm still eating chutney from 2006 & I'm fine *twitch*