Air Meal from the past – lemon & mustard seed chutney

Last night I was reading Food For Free again, and found a few tantalising recipes to try out. The finest was Alexis Sawyer’s 1857 Universal Devil’s Mixture (“…rub each piece over with the following mixture, having made a deep incision in any article of food that may be subjected to this Mephistophelian process…”) but due to the absence of a number of key ingredients (fresh horseradish, Durham mustard) I decided to first go for this mustard seed chutney. Richard Mabey makes some gentle suggestions that one could be out in the hedgerows picking wild mustard seeds, and while I’m all for foraging in principle I draw the line at feckin’ mustard seeds. The hour’s simmering time drew some complaints from other members of the household but it was well worth a slight tear in the eye to have such a tangy and delicious condiment at the end of the process. Something of the marmalade about it…

Lemon & Mustard Seed Chutney

Peel & slice 4 medium onions. Slice 5 lemons thickly & discard the pips. Mix, sprinkle with salt and leave for 12 hours. Add 1oz mustard seed, 1 tsp allspice, 1lb sugar, 1/4lb raisins and 1pt cider vinegar. Bring to the boil and simmer for about an hour. Makes 3-4 jars.

Incidentally, while looking into Durham mustard for future production of the Universal Devil’s Mixture I found this extremely interesting article about said mustard. I never knew that “keen as mustard” comes from the name of a mustard-making firm, Messrs Keen and Sons. Or that it’s been around these Northerly parts since the 15th Century under the spelling “mwstert”.

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