Chutney is a form of relish. Richer and more flavorful, the combination of spices determines whether the chutney will taste savory, sour, sweet, or spicy or a combination.
Chutney originates from India,(Hindi: chatni), made from fresh fruits and spices. During the colonial era, the British took this idea home. Traditionally made with mangoes, tamarind or limes the recipes had to be adapted to the British climate and produce available at that time. English orchard fruits such as sour cooking apples, plums and rhubarb became popular. The British cooks at the time did their best with fruit, onions, and vinegar, adding dried fruit such as sultanas, raisins, and dates, and preserving techniques were similar to sweet fruit preserves using approximately an equal weight of fruit and sugar, the vinegar and sugar acting as preservatives.
European-style chutneys are now made with a larger variety of fruits or vegetables or a combination of the two, the scope is endless. The ingredients are chopped or sliced, cooked, mixed with spices, vinegar and other ingredients and often reduced to a smooth pulp. Different vinegars can be used for subtle changes in flavor.
Vinegar is one of the most important ingredients in successful chutney-making. This must be of good quality and have an acetic acid content of at least 5%. Malt, Wine, Balsamic or Apple Cider vinegar can all be used.
Similarly, sugar is of significant importance. You can use ordinary granulated or brown sugar as you wish. Brown sugar gives a darker color to the chutney that is often preferred. Prolonged cooking of any sugar does, however, have a darkening effect on the chutney and, if a lighter color is wanted, the sugar should only be added when the fruit and/or vegetables are already soft and mushy.
How long to keep chutney
One point to bear in mind is that the flavor of a chutney will improve with age. Most unopened chutneys take at least a couple of months for the full flavor to develop and mature . Once opened if stored in the refrigerator a chutney will need to be eaten within a month.
The fruit and spices in chutney add an exciting pop of flavor to any cheese or cured meat platter. Mix with sour cream for a dip. Add to mayonnaise and use in sandwiches. Serve over a block of cream cheese or goat cheese as an appetizer. Liven up a grilled cheese sandwich or bake a brie with chutney on top and serve with toasted baguette slices.
Give it a try and make our chutney the centerpiece of your next event.