Forgotten Dishes 5: Dockers’ Chutney

We have made a variant of this, and it’s delicious.

Between the wars, Southampton was a thriving dock: in fact, it still is, although in a very different way. In the 1930s it imported fruit, potatoes, grain, timber and wool. (I looked it up.)

There was ‘natural’ wastage of some of the cargoes. This doesn’t mean fraudulent; crates could be damaged quite accidentally. In some cases, the cargo had to be ditched. Naturally, dockers would avail themselves of any free food, and thus began dockers’ chutney.

Basically, it was just a way of using a glut of fruit, in the same way that this happened in the countryside. Bananas, for some reason I don’t know, were often a main ingredient, but any fruit available would have been used.

Mrs O. is a very ‘freestyle’ cook; for this she uses an apple chutney recipe and substitutes bananas or any other fruit available, or any other spices, just as would have been done originally. Chilli flakes are an good extra. The salt does greatly improve the taste.

Apple chutney (Original recipe from Mrs O’s mother)

3 lb apples

2 pints vinegar

1 lb onions

¼ lb sultanas or raisins

1 ½ lb soft brown sugar

1 level teaspoon ground ginger

1 oz salt

1 level teaspoon cayenne pepper

Chop or slice the fruit. Put everything in a saucepan and boil gently for 2 ½ hours. Season to taste.


4 thoughts on “Forgotten Dishes 5: Dockers’ Chutney

  1. I make one like this but use dates instead of raisins. Yes I remember all those banana boats that used to come in to Southampton’s commercial dock and all the stores about banana spiders etc. I even remember the red ones that used to come from South America. Sadly these are all delivered to our rivals in Portsmouth now.

    Liked by 1 person

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