The only blackberries that really taste of anything are the ones you find in the hedgerow in late summer and early autumn. They are usually much smaller than the ones in the supermarket punnets, but their flavour is intense. When I was little we’d spend weekend after weekend filling buckets with fruit from the fields and canal-side near our house. My mother would feed us delicious pies, tarts and crumbles, and I’d help her make huge supplies of bramble jellies and jams. I don’t ever remember bramble chutney featuring on the menu then (rhubarb chutney was more her thing), but if you have a lot of fruit it’s really worth making. Incredibly, the blackberry flavour really shines through all the other intense tastes.
1.25kg (2¾lb) blackberries
400g (14oz) apple, cored and chopped
400g (14oz) onion, peeled and chopped
12g (½oz) salt
25g (1oz) dried mustard powder
25g (1oz) dried ginger
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mace powder
scant ½ tsp cayenne pepper
450ml (18 fl oz) vinegar
400g (14oz) brown sugar
Place the blackberries, apple and onion in a medium sized pan, cover, heat and cook gently for about 45-60 minutes, until a large amount of juice has been released and the apple and onion is soft and pulpy. Press the mixture through a sieve (not too fine) into a large preserving pan, getting as much through as possible but leaving the blackberry pips behind. Add all of the other ingredients to this puree and gently bring up to a boil, stirring often to ensure that the sugar is fully dissolved. Simmer steadily for about 20 minutes or until thickened and ready to bottle – it doesn’t take so long as some other chutneys as the fruit is already cooked. Spoon into sterilised jars*, seal well, cool, label and store in a dark cupboard for one month before using.
*Although a lot of the vinegar is evaporated out of a chutney, if you are planning to keep it for any length of time remember to ensure that any metal lids are well sealed, or have a layer of plastic between them and the jar’s contents, as eventually the vinegar will start to corrode them.