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Grey days like these are made for a spot of pre – Christmas cooking. A rifle through the larder this morning revealed the ingredients for a delicious Boxing Day chutney. It’s quick, easy and can be whipped up at the last minute, unlike other chutneys, which need a bit of time to mature.But it’s equally good made a few weeks in advance  and so perfect for my stand at a Christmas Fayre in a few weeks’ time.

It couldn’t be simpler. So simple in fact that last year my children made it as a present for teachers and ‘aunts’.

Fresh ingredients

2lbs (900g) onions, sliced
2lb Bramley cooking apples, peeled and chopped
1 pkt fresh cranberries 12oz (340g)
2 pints cider vinegar
Zest of 2 oranges
1oz (28g) fresh ginger chopped finely
1tbsp coarse sea salt
½ tsp mixed spice

Dried ingredients

2lb naturally dried apricots coarsely chopped
1 pkt of dates pitted and chopped (175g/6oz)
1lb raisins
Juice of 8 oranges or 1pint orange juice.

First, put the dried fruit into a bowl and pour the orange juice over it, to soak.Then put the fresh ingredients into a preserving pan and cook gently, until the onion is pale and see-through and the cranberries have given up some of their colour, turning the contents pale pink.Add the dried fruit – which will have absorbed much of the orange juice – to the saucepan, together with 2lb sugar.Bring up to a simmering boil, stirring frequently so the contents don’t ‘catch’ on the bottom of the saucepan.As the liquid appears to thicken, reduce the heat slightly, then decant the chutney into sterilised jars and seal. It makes about 13 jars. – 12 to package up in a festive way to sell or give away as presents  and 1 to enjoy when the view from my kitchen could look something like this.