A proper cheeseboard is never complete without a jar of full-flavoured chutney. Martha Collison's fig chutney is simple to make and creates a thoughtful gift when packaged into pretty jars and labelled up. It’s particularly delicious with a mature farmhouse Cheddar or washed-rind cheese such as Époisses.
- Makes2 x 350ml jars
- Prepare10 mins
- Cook40 mins
- Total time50 mins
- PlusPreparation time 10 minutes + cooling and keeping
Peel and cut the onions into chunky dice. Larger pieces will add great texture to the finished chutney.
Heat the olive oil in a deep, heavy-based saucepan, then add the onions. Cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are soft and aromatic. Meanwhile, remove any woody stems from ½ the figs and dice into small chunks.
Add the cinnamon stick and five spice and stir well. Tip in the diced figs, the sugar, balsamic and cider vinegars and orange zest.
Bring the mixture to a simmer, then allow to bubble for 15 minutes. Stir regularly to stop it burning. Slice the remaining figs in ½, discarding any woody stems.
After 15 minutes, add the halved figs to the pan and simmer for 20-25 minutes more. The mixture should have thickened slightly to a syrupy consistency and look dark and glossy (it will solidify a lot more when cooled). Meanwhile, sterilise 2 x 350ml jam jars (see tips).
Remove the cinnamon stick and orange zest, then divide the chutney between the jars, seal the lids and leave to cool completely. Store in a cool, dark place before giving as gifts or enjoying with cheese and charcuterie.
Sterilise your jars
This ensures the chutney is safe to eat and keeps well. Heat the oven to 160°C, gas mark 3. Wash the jars and their lids in hot, soapy water, then rinse and drain. Heat the jars in the oven on a baking tray for 15 minutes to sterilise, then use the jars while still warm. If jars or lids have rubber seals, remove and simmer them in a pan of water for 10 minutes instead (the dry heat of the oven will crack the rubber seals). Turn off the heat, cover and leave until ready to use.
Age is good!
This chutney, and many others, improves with age as the flavours deepen. That’s a good reason to get ahead and make it at least a few weeks before Christmas. It can be kept unopened for 2 months. Once opened, store in the fridge and use within 2 weeks.
All your hard work will go to waste if the chutney catches on the bottom and starts to burn. Take your time and stir often, making sure nothing is stuck to the bottom, for the best overall flavour.
If chunky chutney isn’t your thing, blitz it just before jarring using a stick blender. Return to the pan and boil for 5 minutes, then jar.
Try adding a handful of chopped, dried figs into the mixture at the same time as the fig halves.