What is Taste of the Past?

Taste of the Past is where I share my love of traditional cookery. Recipes from the days before TV dinners and microwaves right down the ages to the earliest cook books that I can get my hands on. I hope you enjoy my experiments as much as I do. Please share your own ideas, efforts and feedback in the comments.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Green Tomato Chutney

The best way I know to use up unripe tomatoes.  I will be looking for more recipes this week, I'll let you know if I find a good one.

2lb  green tomatoes
1lb of cooking apples
1lb of onions
500ml vinegar, (old recipes use malt vinegar, more recent recipes tend to opt for cider or white wine vinegar)
120z of sugar (I prefer soft brown sugar but see what you have the in cupboard)
 A good handfull of dried fruit (I like dates chopped small)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
2 tsp ground ginger
At the start, apple is in large chunks because it has come out of the freezer pre-chopped.

Chutney making is easy.  The secret is to spend time at the start chopping all your ingredients as small as you have the patience for.  No matter how small it looks on your chopping board I can guarantee that it will look much bigger in your sandwich.

Finely chop all of the ingredients that need chopping.
Put everything into a large saucepan.
Heat gently and stir until all of the sugar is dissolved.
Then bring up the temperature and give it a good boil.
You know when it is done when you can draw a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan and see the bottom briefly.

Warning - chutney burns very easily at this stage and there is nothing so persistent and stinky as that of burnt chutney.  You will be smelling it for days.  So even though it seems like your chutney is taking ages, and it may well take ages, do no be tempted to wander off and leave it on the heat for even a few minutes.  It doesn't need constant stiring but it should be watched.

Once cooked you need to pot it up into hot, sterilised jam jars.

Try and leave it for a few weeks to even 3 months to let the flavours develop before you eat it.

A note on ingredients
Please don't worry if you don't have the exact ingredients.  There is a lot of scope for changing.  The earliest chutney recipe I have is from a historic cook book and that one uses honey and white wine instead of vinegar and sugar and the main veg is turnips!  It tastes a lot better than it sounds. 

Mix and match your ingredients, swap apples for pears, try other veg, use your favourite spices. 

Monday, 30 July 2018

Help! My jam went wrong.

It is blackberry time again when lots of people are tempted to make jam.  Making jam is always a good idea and not something to be frightened off.

The most common question I get asked is why a batch of jam went “wrong.”  

My answer is always pretty much the same.  Unless you wandered off, forgot your jam and came back to a blackened, burnt, solid lump of jam toffee (and a tricky washing up task) then your jam probably did not go wrong.

For every "mistake" there is a perfectly good classification of preserve to rescue the day.  Just make sure that when you venture into the kitchen feeling like a domestic goddess ready to take on the world that you don't actually announce that you are going to make jam.  Tell them you are preserving and once you have finished and are admiring the fruits of your labour, decide what it is you have made.


A conserve is runny jam, often described as loose set with larger pieces of fruit.
If your jam doesn’t set over night, bung the jars in the freezer where they will keep pretty much for years.  When you need one, take it out and serve your loose set, conserve with pride drizzled over scones and cream.  So much easier than trying to spread a set jam over your cream tea. 


If it is really runny then whizz it up in the blender and pour your artisan coolie over vanilla ice cream for a divine dessert.  The colours are simply stunning and if you heat the coolie as well the taste is amazing.

If you are feeling very adventurous then you could gently fry and onion, add a splash of vinegar and some your very runny jam and whizz in the processor to make an interesting sauce for meat.

Fruit butters

If, when you open you jar of jam, you find that it has set quite hard and is difficult to spread the you have made a butter.  Fruit butters sometimes contain actual butter but not always.  They tend to have smaller pieces of fruit so make an issue of wanting to better mix the flavours.  These would make a good filling for jam tarts or baked puddings.

Fruit cheeses

If you need a knife to release your jam from the jar then congratulations, you have made a fruit cheese.  Carefully cut the jam out of the jar in a neat cylinder and slice thinly.  Serve the sliced preserve with British cheeses and a range of crackers for a top notch cheese board.

Remember, with all of these, do not tell anyone that your jam went wrong!

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Healthy Snacks

It is that time of the year again....

...when you really crave something other than chocolate

Here are 3 recipes for something a bit more wholesome and very tasty.


Anyone listening to Radio 4 this week will have probably been hearing about the great cookery writer, Claudia Roden.  She is credited with introducing this lovely spice mix to Britain and indeed a lot of the rest of the world.  It is pronounced do'ha by the way (the wonders of radio versus a recipe book!)

Anyway, I don't have her original recipe and a quick internet search revealed that everyone has their own blend of favourite flavours so here goes with mine.  I apologise now for lack of accurate quantities, this isn't that sort of recipe.

4 tablespoons of nuts - lightly roasted
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
1 table spoon each of coriander seed, cumin seed, fennel seeds
some salt, quite a lot of salt actually, this is a spicy salt mix
dried mint to taste, oregano would work as well.

lightly roast all of these in a dry frying pan or warm oven.
Crush the seeds and food process / crush the lot together.

Dip bread in olive oil and then the dukkah.
Sprinkle onto meat before grilling or roasting
Mix into yoghurt or mayonnaise for a lovely dip
any other ideas.....

Savoury Seed Mix

Take your favourite seeds, I use sunflower, sesame and linseed and flax.
Spread on a baking sheet in a thin layer.
Sprinkle over soy sauce, not too wet.
Roast at 180 and check every 5 minutes.
This cooks very unevenly so you really do need to check and stir the seeds every five minutes until they are evenly dry.
Take out of oven and while they cool a little bit pop a jam jar in the oven to sterilise it.
Add cold seeds to cold jar and seal.
If you leave the seeds around for too long they re-absorb all the moisture you have just cooked out and go sticky.

There are lots of recipes on the internet that include sugars, herbs and spices.  I avoid the sugary as they can really burn your oven tray very quickly.  Mixes of spices and salt are nice as well.

Dried Bananas

I don't usually go in for recipes that need special equipment but if you happen to have a dehydrator or an Aga then have a go.
Slice bananas, dip into lemon water and dry them out.

I run bread making course in Surrey, please visit my website for more details: