A Sustainable Life with James Strawbridge

PUBLISHED: 01:16 20 August 2011 | UPDATED: 19:52 20 February 2013

A Sustainable Life  with James Strawbridge

A Sustainable Life with James Strawbridge

In his regular series, eco-celebrity James Strawbridge describes the 'chutneyfication' of Cornwall...

The chutneyfication process is one of the most satisfying and exciting aspects of growing your own food. I make huge volumes of our produce into chutney for a few reasons, the most important of which is simply that I love eating it with cheeses, cold meats and curries. Other more sensible considerations include saving money and not needing to buy expensive condiments from the shops, storing produce effectively for months, adding lip-smacking flavours to sometimes bland vegetables and experimenting with a concoction of ingredients.

Chutney can be made from almost any fruit or vegetable. Ive used marrows, runner beans, apples, radishes, rhubarb, red and green tomatoes, grapes, chillies, aubergine, gooseberries, squash, pears and turnips, to name but a few! Then there are all the various spices that add those distinctive chutney flavours: cumin, coriander, allspice, cloves, ginger, peppercorns, paprika, mustard seed and garlic are some of my first-team selections. The key when making chutney is to cook it for a long time and evaporate most of the moisture so that it reaches a thick, jam-like consistency. The colours change but the flavours intensify. Be bold with the chutney and contrast the flavours dont be afraid to mix fruit and vegetables.

Orchards & Fruit

Cornwall is the perfect place to grow fruit. There are plenty of well-known local ciders that are testament to good apples. There are also a large group of keen chutney makers who use the fresh produce to make special jam jar treats, so look out at farmers markets and local shops. If you fancy having a go and growing your own fruit trees, then Id recommend a visit to the Duchy Nursery near Lostwithiel. They sell an excellent selection of trees that thrive in local conditions. Alternatively Cornish Apple Trees has a great selection of traditional Cornish trees, visit: cornishappletrees.co.uk.

Some useful tips when buying fruit trees include mulching around the base with straw or wood chip, planting in winter time and feeding a big bag of well rotted manure, spotting disease and good annual pruning. Plus, remember that if youre not smiling then youre doing it wrong! Geese are great grazing under a larger orchard, as long as you protect the trees when they are still saplings. Also, dont forget that you can get productive fruit trees with apples and pears for small spaces too. Buy yourself a dwarf variety for a patio - theyll even grow in a pot.

Trees to plant

The Cornish climate enables us to grow all sorts of fruit and vegetables. Some of my favourite trees growing at Newhouse Farm that Id recommend planting this winter are: medlar, quince, mulberry and why not some walnut or cob trees? These older trees will take time to fruit but I love the saying that suggests: It is a rich society that plants trees for their grandchildren to enjoy. The other good reason is that quince chutneyis awesome!

Setting Sail

Next month my latest television series is due out on ITV. Ive spent the summer sailing with my dad Dick Strawbridge and I am now convinced that the best way to see Britain is by boat! If you want another angle of the Cornish coast then what better viewpoint than from the sea. Keep an eye out in episode one for the recognisable Cornish port that we embark from. The series starts on 5 October on ITV 1 from Monday to Friday for four weeks.

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