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  • Writer's pictureKate

Recipe: Nanny Lugg's Runner Bean Chutney

This is an old recipe passed to us by a friend of a friend from their grandma- the proper way to get recipes!

It makes a piccalilli-type chutney which is a good way to preserve lots of runner beans.

The chutney should be left to mature for at least 3 months after making it- but it's nice (if a bit sharp) with only a little maturing time...

This is a very simple chutney recipe. Adding a range of spices such as cumin, chilli, allspice etc can be used in basic chutney recipes like this to make a wide range of different flavours. Using wine or cider vinegars instead of malt vinegar is also a good way to make a more mellow-tasting chutney.

Ingredients (makes about a dozen standard jam jars)

  • 2lb (800g) runner beans, weighed after tops and tails have been removed.

  • 1 1/2lb (700g) onions, chopped

  • 1 1/2pt (850ml) malt vinegar

  • 1 1/2 oz (40g) cornflour

  • 1 heaped tablespoon English mustard powder

  • 1 tablespoon turmeric

  • 8oz (225g) soft brown sugar (switching for white is OK)

  • 1lb (450g) demarera sugar (again, white sugar works- it's just a slightly different flavour)

  • 1 tablespoon salt

You will also need

  • A large pan

  • A small bowl or jug

  • A wooden spoon

  • A ladle

  • A jam funnel, if you have one

  • Enough sterile jam jars to take all the chutney (see bottom of post for how to prepare jam jars)


  1. Put 10fl.oz of the vinegar in the pan with all the chopped onions. Simmer for about 20mins, until the onions are soft.

  2. Cook the runner beans in boiling water for about 5 mins, then strain and add to the onions

  3. Mix the cornflour, mustard and turmeric into a paste with a little of the vinegar.

  4. Add the paste to the onions and beans

  5. Pour in the rest of the vinegar and salt, and simmer for about 10 minutes.

  6. Add the sugar (and any extra spices you want to add) and simmer for about 15 minutes after the sugar has dissolved.

  7. Pot the chutney into your sterile jars.

  8. Leave for as long as you can manage before eating!

Jam jar preparation

There are lots of ways to sterilise jars (and lids) for use. This is the one we usually use.

· Wash the jars and lids in hot soapy water with some bicarbonate of soda added (bicarb is optional). If you leave the jars to soak for a while, the labels usually come off easily.

· Do not dry the jars or lids.

· Put the lids in a bowl or pan and pour over boiling water. Leave covered (with a plate or lid).

· Put the jars on their sides or upside down in the oven at 160 degrees C for at least 15 minutes.

· Once your marmalade (or other preserve) is ready, take the hot jars out of the oven and fill them straight away, taking care to keep the rims of the jars clean (this is where a funnel is helpful).

· Use a clean wet cloth to wipe any spilt jam off the rims or the jars will not seal properly and bacteria or fungi could get in.

· Screw your lids onto the jars, tightening them using a clean tea towel so you don’t burn your fingers (or follow the instructions on the cellophane jam jar lids pack).

· As the jars cool, you will hear popping noises from the lids as the safety buttons pop down- this is a good sign that your jars have sealed properly.

· Once the jars are cool, push any safety buttons that haven’t gone down in and see if they stay down and check that any lids without safety buttons curve down a little in the middle.

· Any lids with safety buttons that pop up haven’t sealed properly- store them in the fridge and use them first. If you are concerned that any other jars haven’t sealed, store them in the fridge too.

· Properly sealed jars should keep in a cool dark place for at least a year.

* If selling your preserve it is recommended that you do not reuse lids, as the plastic seal on the inside can be damaged after the first use, risking the jam spoiling. We find lids are generally fine for reusing a number of times at home: Check that there is no visible damage to the inside of the lid, such as dents, scratches or rust spots on the plastic. Do not reuse lids (or jars!) with any signs of damage. Preserves containing vinegar are particularly problematic with damaged lids due to the acid reacting with the iron in the lid.

* Never put hot substances into cold jars- the change in temperature between the inside and outside of the jar can crack it, wasting your newly made preserve!

Alternatively, you can sterilise a few jars at a time by putting them damp into a microwave (check carefully for how long you need to do this depending on the power of your microwave) or using a hot cycle of a dishwasher timed to end a bit before your jam is ready.

NEVER put metal jar lids into a microwave!

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