La Chatte Gitane (or The Gypsy Cat) was the name we chose for our cottage in France. We chose it while on the road, moving home, from Ireland to France with 2 dogs and 7 cats in the car.
This blog began its insignificant life as a recipe book for friends and family who would ask me repeatedly for a recipe of this, that and the other.
Since then it has taken many different directions, like gypsies tend to do. Sometimes making a U-turn and revisiting familiar roads and taking a break when necessary.
You'll find recipes here, but also musings about the places we've called home, the gardens that we've established, not always successfully, the homes we've improved and the environments we've lived in. Currently, that is back in Ireland.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The I-don't-want-to-make-soup Courgette Chutney

It has been quite a while since I last made chutney. But now, that I have a few veg growing again it seems like a good time to try out my new recipe. It is going to pack a punch. The courgettes have given us a very good crop and while I always try to pick them on the smaller side, sometimes you just turn your back for 5 minutes and a courgette has turned into a marrow. Now, I won't let the marrow go into overdrive, either. The skin should still feel soft and the flesh firm, if you know what I mean.
While the smaller courgettes have a delicate nutty flavour, the marrow lends itself as a good carrier for other flavours, like spices and herbs. It also bulks the chutney out, of course.
Most of my friends here in Ireland make fantastic chutneys and I think it is time for me to get back into the race.

Ingredients Yields +/- 3.5 ltr

  • 2 kg courgettes or marrows, seeds removed and chopped. If you use the largest marrow you can find, check out if the skin is still soft. Press into it with your fingernail and if it is easy to make a mark there is no need to peel. If the skin feels like a steel armour, peel.

  • 3 medium to large onions, peeled and chopped

  • 3 apples, peeled and diced - unripe are best or sour cooking apples
  • 3 pears, peeled and diced - mine were in the fruit bowl, still hard as concrete.
  • 250 gr softened dried apricots, chopped
  • 150 gr raisins or sultanas
  • 1 red chilli, sliced
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 30 black peppercorns 
  • 3 star anise
  • 20 cloves
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds, dry toasted
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds, dry toasted
  • 1 jar 300 ml crabapple jelly - use more sour apples if not available
  • 1 kg cane sugar
  • 1.5 ltr cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 500 ml water
  • salt to taste

  • Yes, there is a whole lot of chopping and dicing to be done, but once you get through that stage, the rest is a doddle.
  • Put all the ingredients, except the salt, in a large enough cooking pot and bring slowly to the boil, uncovered.
  • Stir to dissolve the sugar while you're at it.
  • Leave to simmer for 3 hours, while stirring the mélange every so often to prevent it from burning at the bottom.
  • It is ready when the liquid has reduced, is thick and coats the back of your spoon. The colour has a deep amber glow.
  • Taste test at this time and while this will not be the final flavour, you may or may not want to add salt at this stage.
  • Fill up your very clean jars while the chutney is still hot. Fill them high. Put on the lids and let them cool in an upside down position. Nah ! Don't ask me why ! Something to do with air and creating a vacuum.
  • Chutneys are best left to mature for 2 to 3 weeks. Optimum is 2 months, but it can be stored in a cool dark place for a couple of years at least.

Would you believe that I couldn't fit the last spoon into any of the jars ?  I had to eat it with Brie and savoury Scottish oatcakes. I can only imagine how good this is going to be when matured, it was already damn tasty now. A keeper, this recipe.

Bert was watching me fill the pots and when I finished he asked me if I would like it if he made the labels.  He did a fine job. Lovely !

Come again soon !
Patricia xxx...x


  1. It does sound like a good chutney recipe. My courgettes failed miserable this year, quite possibly the only person who grows courgettes to have less than three courgettes! x

    1. Lol. Courgettes are usually prolific, but even I've had a year where the first (and only) fruit would arrive towards the end of September.


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