Whatever the end product, the cooking procedure for vinegar-based preserves is similar. First, read a recipe carefully to see if there has to be any pre-cooking preparation which may take as long as 24 hours if brining or layering with sugar is required, and which may therefore throw out a cooking schedule. Gather all ingredients and equipment together, and weigh items carefully. Cut up fruit and vegetables with a sharp, stainless knife, after removing any bruised or damaged parts. Check that fruit is in the condition required for a recipe (i.e. ripe or slightly under-ripe) as this can affect the quality of the finished product. Follow the recipe for cooking times, and make sure that chutney is thick and richly-coloured. Always make sure jars are clean, sterilized with hot water, dried and warmed before filling. Fill carefully to avoid splashing hot ingredients on yourself and the jars, cover carefully and label. Store in a cool, dry, dark place.
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