It has been a while since I studied and I have forgotten how to do it. (Though, past exam results would question if I have ever known how to do it.) Instead of re-reading and re-writing notes on topics I will possibly never ever contemplate again, even in the deep, dark recesses of my brain, I find myself pondering the deeper questions of life… what to get my sister for Christmas? Why didn’t I buy that lovely biscuit tin in France? Why did my mother not have me learn French In-vitro? What would I do if I won Lotto? What to cook for dinner? Coffee or tea?

And today’s question: could I make tomato chutney from canned tomatoes, a cheater’s tomato chutney of sorts? Could I? Is this a dangerous thought to be thinking right now? I am having wondrous visions of my business communication notes splattered delightfully in a sweet, red, juicy sauce…

A tomato chutney, I feel, is one of life’s staple ingredients. If made with the right ratio of brown sugar to vinegar to spices it really is the most versatile of condiments. A good tomato chutney can liven any dish. Take the corn fritters I had for lunch: palm sized, crisp edged, buttery yellow fritters with hints of coriander and pieces of red capsicum, well seasoned and kindly re-heated in the oven, rather than the microwave which makes all the difference. They were everything a corn fritter should have been. But, I couldn’t help thinking a sweet tomato chutney with traces of spice and ginger could have made these fritters truly exceptional.

This chutney, this chutney, you will be eating from the jar with a teaspoon. It is more like a jam, but don’t let that hinder its versatility. I think I will eat this on toast with a generous spreading of butter, or in rice dishes, or stirred through cream cheese for a dip, or atop baked potatoes, or as an omelette flavouring, or in any egg dish for that matter, or with cold roast chicken in a sandwich, or simply with cheese and a cracker.

This chutney-jam is very easy to make. Just mix everything in the pot until it reaches jam-like consistency. As it shimmers and simmers away the colours begin to change to richer and darker hues, the colour of ripe chillies, or smashed berries.

Ideal for dramatic note-staining. Or eating by the spoonful.

Tomato Chutney-Jam

Adapted from this recipe and this recipe.

1 800g tin of whole peeled tomatoes in juice plus 1 400g tin.
330-ish ml of white wine vinegar (or cider vinegar, or just plain white vinegar)
1 cinnamon quill
4-5 whole cloves
1 head garlic, finely diced
1 piece of ginger about the size of your thumb, finely diced
handful raisins
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
pepper
generous pinch of chilli flakes (optional)

Pour the tins of tomatoes into a medium-large pot. Chop roughly with a knife. Using the 400g tin, fill 3/4 of the way up with vinegar, swirl to gather left over tomato juice. Pour into pot. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and leave uncovered for 90minutes, or until liquid has reduced and the consistency is thicker.

Take 2 preserving jars and sterilise in hot water or the oven. When jam has finished cooking, pour into jars and place lid tightly on top. Leave to cool. The jar lid should make a ‘pop’ sound as it seals itself.

If you plan on eating the chutney within 2-3 weeks, preserving jars are not necessary, simply place in fridge.

N.B If you would like a less sweet jam reduce the white sugar content to only half a cup.

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