Beetroot Chutney

Never mind the dismal April weather, we’re also right in the midst of the “hungry gap” – the period after the last of the winter brassicas have been harvested and before the first veggies of spring are ready to eat. So be thankful for the humble beetroot – it crops throughout the first quarter of the year and keeps almost indefinitely in the fridge, especially if its overcoat of mud is left intact. If you’re lucky enough to have an allotment and you’re harvesting beetroot by the bucket-load, or they’re just reliably on special offer at the supermarket, you may exhaust your enthusiasm for beetroot soup, roast beetroot, beetroot burgers, beetroot risotto and so on. In which case, it’s time to bottle it!

With its kick of Asian spices, this chutney is bright and fresh tasting. It will be ready to eat after about six weeks but keeps well for a couple of years unopened, and for several weeks in the fridge once you broach a jar. It will play a starring role on any cheeseboard, it’s great with cold ham, chicken or beef, and until the weather warms up, you can serve it alongside the last of those winter comfort meals – it will add zing to venison and lamb casseroles and colour to mac and cheese.

  • 1.25kg beetroot
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of root ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 3 red chillies, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Zest of one lemon or lime
  • 350ml white wine vinegar
  • 200g sugar
  • 1tsp salt

First prepare the beetroot: break off the leaves and trim the root, leaving an inch or so. Boil for about an hour until tender, allow to cool then trim and peel – the skins will slip off quite easily. Grate the beetroot, mix with all the other ingredients, bring to a boil and simmer gently until the apple has completely collapsed and the mixture is quite dry – it will take about two hours.

Bottle in sterilised cylindrical jars. Store in a dark place for at least six weeks to mature.