London in a Jar

What does London taste like? One answer is delicious!

Two local groups have joined together to create the perfect Christmas treat – a chutney using ingredients harvested in the surrounding area. Crystal Palace Transition Town was commissioned to create the chutney by Local Greens, a not-for-profit veg bag scheme operating in Dulwich and other local neighbourhoods.

The apples, pears, rosehips, figs, plums, garlic and chillies used in the condiment have all been gathered from local parks, allotments and members’ gardens in and around Crystal Palace.

Food writer Rachel de Thample coordinated production of the chutney at a pub on Anerley Hill.

She said: “The bulk of the chutney was made at the kitchen of our local pub, the Grape & Grain. They’ve kindly let us use their kitchen on Mondays as they don’t cook on that day.

Karen stirring the chutney pot

“In September, we started hosting jam sessions in the pub’s kitchen every Monday, using local gluts from people’s gardens and there’s been a huge interest. We’ve had so many different people through the kitchen and so many lovely conversations as we’ve chopped and stirred.”

Ms de Thample said the addition of Alexander seeds, loved by the Romans, gives the chutney a unique flavour.

She said: “We’ve just started creating a permaculture garden near my house and as we were clearing the site, I discovered a heap of Alexanders growing at the back of the garden, so we collected and ground these for the chutney. Taste-wise, they’re very Christmassy: a cross between frankincense, black pepper and cloves. They totally transformed the chutney, along with the rosehips and bay.”

Local Greens are including the chutney in their Christmas feast veg bag which will be available from collection points in the Dulwich, Herne Hill, Brixton and Camberwell areas. The bags can be ordered online at until Friday 14 Dec. The group plans to start collection points in Crystal Palace in the New Year.

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