Once this delicately spiced chutney has matured, it will be an instant favourite in any number of sandwiches, with cheese on toast or in a ploughman's lunch
Makes 1.2 litres or three standard 400g jars
1 small cinnamon stick 1⁄2 star anise 1kg plums, stoned and diced 500g pears, cored and diced 250g shallots, finely chopped 400g light muscovado sugar 500ml red wine vinegar 200g prunes, roughly chopped Thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
Step 1) Wrap the cinnamon and star anise in a square of muslin and tie with string. Put this in a large saucepan with the remaining ingredients and slowly bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer, stirring now and then to prevent sticking, for about two and a half hours, until thick and dark.
Step 2) When the chutney is ready, a wooden spoon dragged across the base of the pan should leave a line that remains unfilled for a few seconds. Sterilise the jars and lids by running them through the hot cycle of a dishwasher or wash them with hot soapy water, dry with a clean cloth and place in a moderate oven for 10 minutes (in either case, it’s best to fill the jars while they and the chutney are still hot). Fill the jars to the top, cover with circles of greaseproof paper and attach the lids tightly. Store in a cool, dark place for 2 months before eating. The sealed chutney will last at least 6 months.
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