Our food editor’s tips on making a perfect chutney and delicate rice paper rolls.
If you’re planning on giving home-made gifts this Christmas, let me suggest chutney. It’s one of the easiest and most rewarding preserves to prepare: basically you just toss everything into a pan and cook. Chutneys improve on keeping too, as the flavours have a chance to mellow and meld – good news for cooks wanting to make their Christmas gifts weeks in advance. To help me decide on a recipe, I usually start by looking at what produce is plentiful or on special.
It’s important to cook chutney until it becomes rich and thick but not too dry, as it will dry out slightly in storage. Aim for a moist, shiny consistency. Also, be sure to seal your jars with vinegar-proof lids, as vinegar corrodes metal; screw-top jars with plastic-lined metal lids are ideal.
If you like, you can make your glistening jar of chutney extra special by packaging it with a complementary gift, such as gourmet crackers, a lovely cheese, fancy knife or serving board.