Friday, 8 August 2014

Slow Cooker Carrot, Lemon and Almond Chutney

I'm a fan of slow cookers but I often seem to forget about them except when making casseroles of one kind or another. They're much more useful than that. Using the slow cooker for chutneys means that you don’t need to watch them too carefully but, even better than that, the slow cooking seems to blend and enrich the flavours exceptionally well. On the down side, it’s very difficult to give precise instructions on timings for slow cookers and I think it's quite tricky to get the amount of liquid in a preserve recipe correct. Slow cookers seem to vary a great deal, not only in the temperatures they reach, but also in the amount of liquid they tend to lose while cooking. So, it’s possible that after the initial cooking period you may need to transfer the chutney to a conventional pan and boil it for a short while to get the desired consistency.

This particular chutney is a classic combination but it’s one that works very well with a range of different foods and that seems to lend itself very well to slow cooking. You do need to allow time for the flavours to blend, so it’s best to make this chutney over a two-day period. Like just about any chutney the flavour is likely to improve after it’s been stored for a week or two, although this particular chutney is pretty good even if eaten straightaway. This amount will fill roughly 2 conventional jam jars or 4 small ones, although this will depend a little bit on how much you thicken the chutney before putting it in the jars. I feel confident that this will store very well for many months but, to be honest, so far I've just gobbled it down too quickly to be certain of that.
Carrot Lemon and Almond Chutney
500 g finely grated carrots
60 g ginger, peeled and either finely grated or reduced to a purée in a processor
300 g caster sugar
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp salt
Zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
Juice of 2 lemons
50 ml runny honey
100 ml cider vinegar
40 g flaked almonds

Mix the grated carrot, ginger and caster sugar together and stir in the coriander, cumin, chilli flakes, pepper, salt and lemon zest. Pour the lemon juice, honey and vinegar into a jug and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour over the carrot mixture. Cover and leave overnight. (If you really can’t wait that long, then allow a few hours at least).

The next day, stir the mixture and cook in the slow cooker on its ‘High’ setting for 2½ hours. At the end of this time, the carrots should have softened a fair bit, without falling apart and the flavours should have combined and intensified. At this stage, check how much the liquid has reduced. If the chutney has thickened sufficiently, then stir in the almonds and leave to cook for a further 15 minutes or so. If the chutney still has too much liquid for your taste, then transfer it to a saucepan and boil it for a few minutes before adding the almonds and simmering briefly. The chutney will thicken somewhat as it cools.

Allow the chutney to cool slightly before spooning it into sterilised jars. Seal the jars and store somewhere cool and dark.

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Happily, this month’s Slow Cooker Challenge hosted by Janice at Farmersgirl Kitchen is for preserves and so I'm duly offering this as an entry.