Grow forage cook: spicy plum chutney

Spicy plum chutney recipe | Wolves in London
Spicy plum chutney: the harbinger of autumn…

There’s been a definite chill in the air this week and I have to keep reminding myself that, yes, it is still officially August and still officially summer. For one more week at least…

I’m sure I can feel the days shortening imperceptibly each evening and my summer duvet is wrapped more tightly around me each night.

I’m trying not to moan because, after all, we did have a glorious July, but there is something a little depressing about an August that already feels as if autumn has hit.

But, on the plus side, the arrival of autumn a little early this year means the early arrival of harvest time, hurrah!

And what a bumper harvest it has been so far.

It seems to have been an especially good year for plums. My fellow Grow Forage Cooker, Laura (of Circle of Pine Trees) shared three glorious looking plum recipes last week from a basket filled to the brim at the local PYO.

This is a selection of seriously delicious looking plum treats: plum clafoutis, plum cake and plum jam. Head over now if you’ve not already seen the delights: a basket of plums.

This week, I’ve got plums in my hands too, hem hem, since our plum tree has had a rather magnificent bounty this year.

Spicy plum chutney recipe | Wolves in London
What a bowl of plums!

So if you, too, have more plums than you know what to do with, here’s another recipe, this one for a spicy plum chutney, that tastes particularly fabulous at Christmas time with cold meats or cheese.

(I know, I know, despite the chilly weather it’s still far too early to think about Christmas, but this chutney is best matured for a few months, so if you make it now you can forget about it all over again until December…)

And if you’re growing, foraging or cooking anything yourself with seasonal ingredients, do please share it with us. Use the hashtag #growforagecook on twitter or instagram and tag either of us (@circleofpines and @wolvesinlondon) or leave us a comment on our blogs to share any photos you’ve taken, recipes you’ve made or blog posts you’ve written.

We’d love to get some inspiration / drool over some delicious photos.

At the end of each month, we’ll share a round up on our blogs of some of our favourites and pin them to our Pinterest board: Grow, forage, cook.

And a huge thank you to everyone who has joined in so far!

And so, on with the plums…

Spicy plum chutney

Spicy plum chutney | Wolves in London
Another, slightly closer up view of the chutney

This makes 5 – 6 jars. You can scale up or down all the ingredients depending on how many plums you have.


  • 1kg of plums
  • 1kg of apples, cored and chopped
  • 400g granulated sugar (I like to use white sugar as the chutney stays a wonderful pink colour, but you can replace with brown if you prefer)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1tbsp chilli flakes (or more or less, as you prefer)
  • fresh ginger, an amount about the size of two thumbs
  • garlic: one bulb, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 350ml of cider vinegar
  • Large heavy bottom saucepan, stockpan or (ideally) jam pan
  • 5-6 jam jars
  • wooden spoon

What to do:

1. First of all, get your jars on to sterilise. You can either put them through a normal wash on the dishwasher, or wash them in soapy water and then put into an oven on a low heat. If you do the latter, put them onto a baking tray and then you can pull the whole thing out at once, rather than handling lots of hot glass jars.

You’re supposed to use new lids every time, or sterilise them in boiling water, but – confession – I just stick the lids through the dishwasher as well…

2. Chop the plums in half, remove the stones and weigh them. Incidentally, this will leave you with genuine brown, wrinkled prune fingers; washing them in a bit of lemon juice helps remove the stains…

Spicy plum chutney recipe | Wolves in London
First, chop your plums…

3. Match the rest of your ingredients to the amount of plums you have, by scaling up or down the ratios. For every kg of plums you want approximately a matching weight in apples, 350ml of vinegar and 400g of sugar. Specific quantities aren’t crucial, so don’t worry too much about matching this exactly. The apples on my trees are only just starting to ripen, so I couldn’t quite match the weight of the plums, but just added what I could… It didn’t matter in the slightest.

4. Core and chop the apples – controversially, I don’t worry about peeling them, since I think the skin softens enough not to be noticeable and I am a rather lazy cook – but if you’d rather peel them, go right ahead.

Spicy plum chutney recipe | Wolves in London
Apples from my trees

5. Stick everything into a big saucepan and bring to the boil.

6. Simmer, stirring every now and again for around 90 minutes, or until the mixture has reduced and become a thick gloopy consistency.

7. Spoon into the jars while still hot and twist the lids onto the top. The lids should depress at the top and you know a seal has been made.

8. Put aside for at least a month if you can, before eating, to let the flavours infuse. This should store well for at least a year…

Delicious with meats or with cheese and biscuits.

Spicy plum chutney recipe | Wolves in London
Plum chutney, cheese and oatcakes. A rather excellent snack, I can attest…

So tell me, what have you been growing / foraging / cooking recently?

Related articles:

I love me a bit of preserving. Take a look at a few of my other recipes:

Spiffing elderflower cordial recipe

Elderflower cordial is one of those drinks that make me feel that I’m a character in an Enid Blyton book.

You know how the Famous Five went on endless picnics and every time someone drank a bottle of ginger ale, they’d proclaim to the other four, “I do declare this to be the best ginger ale I’ve ever tasted in my entire life…”

Homemade elderflower cordial
Life is better with elderflower cordial. Fact.

Elderflower cordial is a bit like that for me. I love the stuff. And I feel an overwhelming urge to use words like “spiffing” whenever I drink it.

But despite my great love for it, this is the first year I’ve ever attempted to make it.

For some reason, I always had it in my head that elderflower cordial was really, really tricky to make. Despite being a prolific chutney, marmalade and jam maker, I’ve never branched out into drinks – fearing, perhaps, making something as unpleasant as my grandfather’s notorious home brewed wine used to be.

But I met up with a friend last week, who not only gave me a bottle of elderflower cordial she’d made, but also shared her recipe with me. And it turns out, it’s super simple.

The last elderflower blossoms are still on the tree, so if you’ve been similarly put off giving it a go in the past, head out and pick some now and make yourself up a batch to keep for the summer.

Elderflower blossoms
Lovely and frothy blossoms


  • 20 heads of elderflower
  • 800g white sugar
  • 3 pints water
  • 4 lemons, zested and sliced
  • 50g citric acid

What to do

Zested, sliced lemons
First, take your lemons…
  1. Boil the water and pour into a large bowl.
  2. Put the sugar in to the freshly-boiled water and stir til it has dissolved.
  3. Leave to cool
  4. When cool, add the lemon zest and slices and the citric acid
  5. Check the elderflower heads for bugs and put the flowers in to the bowl. (I could have spent a little longer doing this, judging by the amount of black things that were floating around at the end, but at this point,  you’re making something that looks and smells so delicious, you don’t even care if it’s got bugs in. Bugs? They probably taste just like roses…)

    homemade elderflower cordial
    I know, it looks too good to be true, doesn’t it?
  6. Leave, covered with a tea towel, for 24 hours. (I forgot mine and left it for 48 hours. It was fine…)
  7. Strain through a fine sieve ( muslin would be even better) and pour into sterilised bottles. (I didn’t bother to sterilise my bottles, because I was feeling lazy and I knew I’d drink it all before it would have a chance to go off anyway… I also put some in a plastic bottle and just stuck it into the freezer. I’ll let you know if that worked when it comes to taking it out.)
Elderflower cordial
Enjoy in a completely uncontrived situation like this one…

Related articles:

Bounty from the weekend

Not much chat this morning (I’ve got a Monday morning head on, I’m afraid) but just a few pics of things I harvested / grew / stole over the weekend, along with plans for their transformation…

First up, this verdant little bunch of wild garlic leaves.

wild garlic leaves

I’ve felt a little jealous of the country lifestyle of my friend Laura (of Circle of Pine Trees) ever since I saw her amazing pesto recipe, made from hand picked wild garlic foraged from their local woods. So imagine my surprise to realise that there was a bounty of wild(ish) garlic growing along the side of a path just down the road from me. Admittedly, I do suspect it’s been carefully planted there by the council, but I nipped a leaf or two from each plant in the hope nobody would mind.

This healthy bunch of rhubarb, on the other hand, is from my own garden.

Homegrown rhubarb

We were lucky enough to inherit all sorts of amazing well-established fruit and veg when we moved in to our new house and the six rhubarb plants seem never-endingly abundant.

I will definitely be making a rhubarb and orange cake following the recipe from Waitrose. I’ve made this a couple of times before and it’s an absolute beauty.

I think I shall also try some chutney. This rhubarb and apple chutney, from BBC good food looks rather delicious.

Finally, a bit of booze. I’m getting married later this year and we were originally planning on making sloe gin for everyone as wedding favours. Except, when it was sloe season we had just moved house and had a really small baby, so we never managed to pick any. But, with the abundance of rhubarb in the garden, I think it could be worth having a crack at some rhubarb gin instead. I’ll trial a small bottle first before going for industrial quantities. Billy’s Booze Blog has two different rhubarb gin recipes.

I’m hoping this little pumpkin seedling will one day become just as prolific as the rhubarb:

pumpkin seedling

I planted eight seeds a few weeks ago and all have germinated. I shall have to give some away because I certainly don’t have space for that many pumpkins. I harvested the seeds myself and can no longer remember whether they are standard pumpkins or butternut squash. But, if the latter, I will certainly be making a butternut squash risotto or ten, come Autumn time. I usually just wing it when I make one, but I might be tempted to try this really unusual recipe by Nigel Slater, which uses leftover butternut squash soup along with stock.

How was your weekend? Was it sunny where you were too?