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I don't know about you, but the one thing I love about Christmas food is the assortments of pickles, chutneys, dips and sauces that go with cold meats, vegetarian food and cheeses. (in my case Soya cheese - I'm allergic to milk.) I have my favourites and this one I discovered last year. It may have been around before then, but it was not clear on Baxter's website when it was first produced. For those that haven't visited the site, it's colourful, full of historical data about Baxter's products and you can also shop direct from them. They do some lovely hampers that are ideal for friends, relatives, in-laws etc. I won't give you a history of Baxter, although I found it fascinating. I'll just say that the very name conjures up wonderful soups, chutneys, preserves and a taste of the exotic. In fact I once had a dinner party and bought two tins of Baxter's consommé as a starter.
The company was founded in 1868 and four generations later it's still a family concern.
This particular chutney is one of Audrey Baxter's own range, the recipe adapted from that of a Baxter's chutney lover. I wonder whether that's why it has the small word, Albert's before the larger lettering of Victorian Chutney on the Baxter's label?
Personally I find label descriptions boring, but it is a part of a complete review. After all, with my milk allergy I do get to read an awful lot of labels. This one is nice and warm. It's synonymous with Baxter's products, that rich earthy colour that reminds me of the area of Scotland where it's ingredients come from. Next to the name on the label is a brief message from Audrey Baxter, a nice personal touch. Then there's a list of ingredients, nutritional information and storage instructions. Let's have a look at these in a bit more detail.
The jar itself is a lovely shape, octagonal with a lovely crystal-like design. I recycle everything I can so this will probably end up as a small storage jar for fresh ginger/garlic/ arrowroot, or make its way into my recycling box. Either way, it won't be wasted.
Then there's the twist cap, (Baxter was the first company to make these.) It has the royal seal of approval, but more importantly a small raised circle that appears when it has been opened. Not that it lasts long once opened in my household. Storage instructions might not seem that important, but although I know that preserves can last at least four weeks after opening, it's good to see it on the label.
Apples, sugar, vinegar, water, raisins, date paste, dried onions, salt, modified corn flour, spice extracts, concentrated orange juice, dried apricots, lemon peel, yellow mustard seeds , ginger and garlic. The fruit content is 46%, a very good balance in my estimation. It's gluten free, suitable for vegetarians and vegans, reasonably low in calories and virtually fat free.
Now for the smell and taste test.
I bought two of these for Christmas so I've just opened my second jar to give you my full description of aroma, looks and taste. (the things I do for research.)
Once the jar top is twisted this wonderful aroma of mixed fruits with spices invades your nostrils and starts your mouth watering. It's quite a strong aroma, but not overwhelming. In fact is smells just like Christmas, with an added zest of citrus fruits taking me back to my childhood Xmas stocking.
I've just added a small spoonful to my chicken dinner and forget the cranberries, this is much tastier, both with hot meals and cold meals. (I've tried not to say meat too often as my daughter and family are vegetarian and love this with lots of foods.) The taste is predominately fruity but the garlic, ginger and onions balance it perfectly.
Baxter's advertise this as good with meats, salads and jacket potatoes. To me a little goes a long way and because of its fruit content it's ideal with poultry, roast pork, venison, duck, and great with cheeses or Nut roasts. One of my favourite winter vegetable dishes is a combination of orange root vegetables, the chutney is a tasty accompaniment to this and even jazzes up the humble sprout!
After Christmas is over I still find lots of uses for any leftover chutney. I do like it with a jacket potato, but generally I can eat it with most cold meats, especially chicken, though it goes well with bacon or gammon as well. The problem is that I just can't find this in the shops after Christmas, so often buy a few jars to last until late winter. I do prefer lighter dishes in the Spring and Summer, so although it can be used all year round, I find it better to savour for special occasions.
Root Vegetable Bake.
This is my own recipe that I made up for my daughter and son-in-law.
1 butternut squash.
About five carrots.
Two small or one large onion.
1 small swede.
Pinch of parsley.
Knob of butter/margarine.
Clean the vegetables, cut the squash into half and remove the seeds. Cut the vegetables and squash into small pieces and boil until tender. Sweat the onions in a frying pan or Wok.
Mash the vegetables together with the butter or margarine. Place in a casserole dish and garnish with chopped parsley and a season with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Bake in a medium oven until the top has browned. (about 20 minutes). Serve with meat or with a vegetarian dish.
Serves four and lasts for three days when kept cool.
The chutney adds a bit of spice to this dish and many others.
I bought two jars for £2 in Somerfield as a special offer in December. The price is normally around £1.20per jar for 312g. What you get for this price though is pure excellence. Baxter's products are still thought of as a little bit of luxury and who can resist that? Enjoy!
© Lisa Fuller. January 2008.
Inspired by a recipe from a Baxters chutney lover, we have combined richly spiced fruits with zesty orange and lemon peel to create a delicious accompaniment. Enjoy it with Ploughman's, jacket potatoes and salads.