Saturday, 26 March 2011

Tomato Chilli Cinnamon Chutney, a note on experimentation.

With experimental preserving, the tendency is to concoct a certain food on one inspired day, to eat it several months later and in the mean time to have forgotten what impulsion gave rise to said concoction.

There is but one way:  A very meticulous method of noting down experiments and recipes (step 1) is imperative, to be  followed by a taking down of results: tasting notes/success or otherwise (step 2) in order that processes may be repeated, altered, improved etc…

All too oft’ I find myself wondering yet another time how on earth I had preserved a certain jar of tomatoes, or what quantities of salt I had used in that perfect sauerkraut.

There are many methods and each to his own, I love to write the recipe on the label of the jar, but 'tis utterly impractical, tending to have faded or run when eventually the preserve is tasted.

All this to say: 

On Clare Island, in the depths of the stores:  a small jar of last year’s Tomato Chilli Cinnamon Chutney.  An eccentric experiment, that had now had time to mature.

And what a chutney!  The sweetness of the Summer-ripened tomatoes was picked up by the Cinnamon and then, all at once, a sharp chilli bite… it spread thick like butter and deep rusty red, it was quite the marvel of the crowd.

For once, I had written the recipe down, and still had to hand the little book I had inscribed it in, here it is:

Tomato Chilli Cinnamon Chutney, an experiment.

3lb of the Tomato glut (eat your best and ripest raw and sweet, use the rest for chutney)
1 lb Onions
1 lb Demarara
1 pt Vinegar
3-6 Chillies (according to strength)
2-3 Sticks of Cinnamon (ground)

Bring the lot to the boil.
Reduce, simmering and stirring till thick and sludgy. (a spoon should stand up in it)
Pot in Sterilised Jars.
Allow to mature several months, then gorge with friends.

Chillies on Clare Island


  1. Hi Olivia,

    Can I suggest that the problem of tracking your "experiments" could be solved by using barcodes. Each "concoction would be issued with a barcode which when scanned would relate back to a database that stores all your recipe notes.


  2. Goodness - thanks Ashley... Madame Luddite here will try get her head around that one. Of course on larger scale, or in a cooking business, that would be a highly efficient means of tracking rceipes, ingredients, dates, temperatures, cooking times. But would it be viable in a home kitchen...?

  3. Hi Olivia

    Thanks for the link to this.

    My (imperfect) method is to keep a 'day book'. So whatever I cook/invent for the day gets scribbled in my A4 book. It's not perfect, I often wonder WTF something means months later. But it is a help and better than nowt.

    And that's a damn fine recipe.



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