Today’s recipe is for strawberry chutney – or as the Italians call it: Fragolaceto! (I think the exclamation mark is compulsory) – which sounds far more poetic.
Actually, it’s not really a traditional chutney at all, since there’s neither onions nor spices here, just fruit, sugar and balsamic vinegar. This traditional Italian preserve is one of those unusual dishes that can sit on the fence between sweet and savoury and go quite happily with both.
You could warm it up and use it as a topping for ice-cream or perhaps a cheesecake – but my favourite way to enjoy it is with cheese and biscuits. A nice, strong cheddar, a crisp oatcake and a dollop of this – oh my!
It’s very simple and quick to make – just over an hour for this relatively small quantity – and depending on the size of your strawberries, about 250ml, or just over one cup. An ideal amount to decide whether you think this is as awesome as I do.
Allowing the strawberries to sit in the sugar first, and removing them after 20 minutes simmering helps the pieces keep their shape and prevents them from disintegrating during cooking.
I love the sound of the word ‘Fragolaceto’ (pronounced fraggo-la-SEE-toe), but I think ‘strawberry chutney’ sounds more intriguing. Nevertheless, it might be easier to convince someone to have a spoonful of ‘Fragolaceto’ on their ice-cream!
Strawberry Chutney – Fragolaceto
3tbs liquid pectin
60 ml balsamic vinegar
skimmer or slotted spoon
sterilised jar and lid
- Wash and hull the strawberries.
- Quarter the strawberries – if they are large, cut again. Pieces should be about 2cm.
- Put the pieces in a bowl and sprinkle over the sugar. Toss gently, then cover and leave at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to allow the sugar to draw out the juices.
- Pour the strawberry mixture into a wide, shallow pan and bring to a gentle simmer.
- After 20 minutes, remove the strawberry pieces and place into the sieve over a bowl. Once the syrup has dripped through, pour it back into the pan.
- Add the balsamic vinegar and pectin and simmer for a further 20 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. The less liquid you have, the firmer the final preserve will set. If you want to use it as a dessert topping, I suggest making it on the runny side. You can always thicken it later if need be.
- Return the strawberries to the pan and fold into the syrup. If it looks really too runny for your liking, strain the liquid from the fruit and simmer a little longer.
- Pour into sterilised jar and seal whilst hot.
Cost: £1.82 (July 2011, Pick Your Own strawberries £3.00/kg)