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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Making Chutney

Posted by Compostwoman at The Compost Bin

A very useful way to use a glut of fruit or vegetables ( home grown OR shop bought) is to make Chutney.

Wikipedia ( always useful) describes Chutney as

a term for a variety of sweet and spicy condiments, usually involving a fresh, chopped primary vegetable or fruit with added seasonings. Chutney, as a genre, is often similar to the Pakistani pickle and the salsa of Latin American cuisine, or European relish.

Chutney may be dry or wet; dry chutney is generally in the form of powder. In India, a chutney is often made to be eaten fresh, using whichever strongly-flavored ingredients are locally available at the time. It would not normally contain preserving agents, since it is intended to be consumed quickly after preparation. The Hindi translation of "to make chutney" is a common idiom meaning "to crush". This is because the process of making chutney often involves the crushing the ingredients together.[citation needed]

The use of a stone mortar and pestle is often regarded as vital to create the ideal chutney. It consists of a small stone bowl (called a "kharal" or "khal" in Hindi, Tamil kal கல்), or a flat piece of stone (called a "sil") on which the ingredients are crushed together with a rounded stick of stone or wood (called a "batta", pronounced with a hard 't').

Chutney is more familiar in North America and Europe in a form that can be stored. To this end, vegetable oil, vinegar, or lemon juice are used to enhance the keeping properties.

Beginning in the 1600 chutneys were shipped to European countries like England and France as luxury goods. Western imitations were called "mangoed" fruits or vegetables. In the nineteenth century, brands of chutney like Major Grey's or Bengal Club created for Western tastes were shipped to Europe.

Generally these chutneys are fruit, vinegar and sugar cooked down to a reduction.

The tradition of chutney making spread throughout the British empire, especially in the Caribbean and American South where chutney is still a popular condiment for ham, pork and fish.

So...a tradition of chutney making, hmmm? well the tradition is alive and well at Compost Mansions, that's for sure! I love making Chutney, I usually make 4 or 5 different batches in the autumn and winter, from fresh. glut fruit and veg and then later from stored apples and frozen fruit and veg. I then have lots of jars stored, to give as gifts, to barter for other foods or services and, of course, to eat! I am talking, of course, about the sort which is preserved by having lots of vinegar and sugar in it, potted whilst hot, into warm jars so a vacuum forms when the contents cool and then kept in a sealed jar until ready to eat

I made Apple and Courgette chutney back in September, as I had a lot of Apples and Courgettes to hand


1 Kg cored, peeled , diced Apples (Bramley)
1 Kg peeled, diced Courgette
0.5 Kg diced Onion
Some Garlic ( I used about 6 small cloves...and they WERE small!)
0.5 Kg skinned chopped Tomatoes
0.5 Kg chopped Raisins and Sultanas mixed
0.5 Kg Light brown Sugar
0.6 L Cider Vinegar( I actually used a mixture of Cider and Red Wine)
20g Salt
1 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
Black Pepper ( I just grind it into the pan...I used lots)

Prepare everything by finely chopping (if you use a machine be careful not to mince too fine or the chutney will be a little mushy), put it in a large Stainless Steel pan, bring to boil, reduce heat to low simmer, leave.

and go and grade apples for storing, clean out hens, drink tea, etc etc....

return now and then to give a stir with a wooden or stainless spoon. About 4 hours later (it may take less time , I find it depends on the size of the base of your pan!) keep a close eye on it to see if it is nearly ready to pot.

Take about 10 washed jars
(350g ish) and lids ( which MUST be vinegar proof! so use old pickles jars for preference!) and put in the oven on a rack ( I use the toaster tray which came with the oven as the jars don't fall off it so easily.

I use recycled jars, as I am not selling my produce. If you want to sell it you need to use new lids (in the UK) and standard sized jars.

EDITED by Compostwoman later for clarity to add

I only tend to re-use the lids once and check the seal VERY carefully each time...and with the button lids it is obvious if the seal has failed......if in doubt get new lids!

glass jars are, of course, virtually endlessly reusable if not damaged...

Heat jars at 110C for about 10 mins then turn down oven to 80C until you are nearly ready to pot the chutney, then turn off the oven and allow the residual heat to keep the jars hot ( saves energy!) Try to time this phase so as to coincide with the end of doing the Sunday Roast or some baking....I try but usually fail a bit miserably here!....)

When you think the chutney is nearly done do the "channel" test...draw a spoon through the surface of the chutney, if a channel appears its done. If not, keep simmering for another few mins and test again.

When done, turn off the heat and let the residual heat in the ring ( if electric) finish the simmer (saves energy, but won't work with Gas)

Fill hot jars to almost full, wipe clean, put on lids and screw on tight. Watch out as the jars WILL be hot! I have a stainless jam funnel and a stainless ladle...we got these to make life easier as we make a LOT of jam and chutney! Don't worry if you don't have these, use a Pyrex jug...make sure it is clean and sterilised...and watch out for the hot handle!!

Admire your handiwork, make sure the vacuum "buttons" have pulled down on the lids, if your lids had them, then when cool, LABEL(!) PUT AWAY in a cool dark place to mature for AT LEAST 2months...

Seriously, it WILL taste nicer if you leave it to mature!

I work from an all purpose recipe which I adapt and vary depending on the fruits, vegetables, spices etc. available, and on my mood!

My chutney recipes are basically 600 ml vinegar, 20 g salt, 500 g sugar, assorted spices usually around 2 teaspoons of them (I use ground spices quite happily!),500 g onions and then another 3 Kg of assorted fruit and veg. This makes around 10"chutney/relish" sized jars, the 350 g ones.

I find SOME fruit is needed, even if its only 500 g apples and 500g dried fruit, as apples especially help to thicken the chutney, they and the dried fruit is part of the 3 Kg of assorted stuff though! I also always use Cider vinegar or wine vinegar occasionally, I use Aspalls Organic cider vinegar ( for those in the UK) and find it makes for a smooth result without a harsh vinegary IS possible to eat my chutney immediately but I would recommend keeping it for at least 2 months, longer if you can!

So, that's how I make chutney. I hope this post has been useful to you and if you don't make chutney at the moment, it will inspire you to have a go. There is nothing to beat home made chutney to liven up a cheese sandwich, or a plate of salads or to add to a curry! And, of course you know what has gone into it and you have saved yourself some money and earned the satisfaction of doing something for yourself.


Joanne said...

Sounds delicious! I always buy homemade relishes and chutneys at markets and fairs. They are a million times better than supermarket varieties.
I may try my hand at it one day- its too hot here at the moment to even think about cooking.

djv293 said...

The chutney looks great. I think I'll give it a try this year.I was wondering where you get the one piece canning lids? I'm in the U.S. and have only seen the two piece Kerr or Ball canning lids and jars. Donna J.

Julie said...

Ooh yum. I have a couple of monster zucchinis that were hiding from me, so I think chutney is on the "To Do" list today since the weather has cooled a little. Thanks :-)

Compostwoman said...

Joanne, Julie Thanks for the nice comments! Have a go is all I can say...

Donna, We do have the two piece canning lids in the UK, and I *DO* use them for other preserving BUT this is how chutneys and jams are sold in the shops here, and how most folk preserve them if they make their own, here...

What about shop bought jars of jam or chutney? I am sure I remember when we were in the USA they come in this sort of jar?

Maybe not with the "button" lid, which indicate there is a vacumn, but *I* use plain lids sometimes and if you pot the chutney when hot, in hot jars, there is usually a good vacumn when it has all cooled down.

Also test the lids...if it is not under vacumn it will open really easily so put it in the 'fridge and eat it soon ish.....
I don't use canning jars (Mason/kilner) so I can't talk about chutney making into those....


A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

mmmmm yum!
yes a sandwich and some chutney would go down nicely bout now...104 degrees here today!

Rest is not idleness said...

Always looking for ways to use up excess zucchini. Now I will be able to invent my own chutneys using your base recipe. Fantastic
take care

fullfreezer said...

I made my first chutney this fall. An apple and green tomato one. It was not only my first attempt at chutney (which was delicious!!) but my 14 year old daughter's first attempt at canning. What a wonderful adventure for us both!

Linda said...

It looks very nice.

livinginalocalzone said...

Chutney is a staple in my family, and to hear about other cultures and their takes on the process is really fascinating. I have had various versions of mango chutney all my life (sweet, sour, raw, cooked....). Cilantro and mint chutney is a close second - we even use it on sandwiches (just the chutney and bread, maybe with a slice or 2 of tomato), and it is a great way to use the mass of herbs that come so quickly in the summers. Tamarind chutney is my father's fav.... hard to find the tamarind here though. Do you have it in the UK?

I've never tried apple and courgette chutney, how do the flavors blend? I've saved your recipe, as it is one of the things on my canning list for this summer :-)

Compostwoman said...

Good morning everyone!

I am SO glad you all like Chutney!

The Apple and Courgette (should really be A, C and Tomato I guess!) is yummy!

I opened some just before Christmas and also gave away some as gifts , and it is very nice, sweet, but not TOO sweet, a good blend of fruit and veg, and with a kick from the spices....

I think I will next time mince the ingredients and put it in sauce jars to use as a dipping/pouring relish!

Sorry, I should have said courgette/zucchini so non UK readers knew what I meant!

I have been asked recently about making chutneys to sell on a farmers market stall...I am pondering if I want to go that route as it is a lot of work....

and I have a lot to do already!

kelly said...

yum! thanks for sharing!

Chiot's Run said...

I always use chutney's instead of ketchup, which is a huge plus now that we find out HFCS has mercury in it. None of that in my chutney!

lizzylanefarm said...

yes, this does sound good.

Am I to understand you reuse the jars and lids from jam with and without the pop up button? I didn't know this could be done...

thanks karyn

Compostwoman said...

lizzielanefarm hello!

Yes I reuse jam jars, I tend to buy ones with the "pop up button" in the first place ( or get friends to save theirs for me) as it is such an easy way of telling if the lid has safely sealed!

I tend to reuse them a couple of times and then use them for storing other stuff ( nails, seeds etc...) or recycle them.

As I tend to buy the same make of jars, I actually keep a supply of new (to chutney making)lids which I can put on many times reused glass jars, knowing they will fit. The "older" many times reused lids then either go on jars for storage use OR go in the recycling...

If that makes sense?

Compostwoman said...

Should have said I DO use jars with lids with no "button" but follow the hot jar, hot chutney rule to make sure it seals well...if in doubt, mmediately it is cool and I find it doesn't have a good seal, I refridgerate it and eat it very can always be added to soups or stews etc as a seasoning in its own right!

But thats just me...

ChristyACB said...

Wow, the recipe sounds delicious however I'd probably use the more modern and safer sealing methods in canning. I'm actually a little surprised so many people do it this way.

Thanks for the delicious sounding recipe.

aromatic said...

Sounds delicious!! Nothing like home-made chutney... I am hoping to give it a go later on in the year. Found the post very informative! Thank you CW!!
Jane xxx

Compostwoman said...

Christy ACB, I am really interested in your comment that you are "actually a little surprised so many people do it this way"

This is how chutney and jam is sold in shops all over the world? I have never seen pressure canned jars in shops with chutney or jam in ( meat products, yes of course!)

so how, exactly, do you think it is not so safe?

Honestly I am just interested to know why you think this is so?

also, I can truthfully say I have NEVER had a jar of chutney or jam go either off or mouldy , even after opening..and I have jars I have kept for several years before opening....

Compostwoman said...

Kelly, Chiot's run, aromatic thank you for leaving a comment!

I am glad so many people are enjoying my chutney post :-)

I hope it is informative and shows how the same thing can be done many different ways in different places as well..I am interested that so many US and Australian people seem to pressure can jam and chutney, whereas in the UK and some parts at least of Europe we hot bottle ( as I have described in my post) jam and chutney, reserving pressure canning ( or hot water bath canning) for meat containing products or low sugar/low acid products....

I wouldn't dream of using my chutney method on anything with meat or low acidity....I would pressure can tomato based pasta sauce, if I didn't freeze or dehydrate it!...but for chutney and Jams it is the way they are sold in jars here in the UK , and have been for ...well in my mother's lifetime and she was born in 1916!

I might add it is also the way every recipe book I have read says to bottle the chutney ot jam, as a safe preserving method.....

Food for thought, indeed...

ChristyACB said...


I don't pressure can chutney, but I do water bath can it according to standard procedures (Ball, County Extension, etc).

I was really more talking about re-using single piece lids from commercial processes. Pretty much everything says that is a fairly dangerous thing to do as the thin seal isn't really meant for repeated use. If it was do that or starve I would, but 2 piece lids, or brand new one piece lids are what is considered safe.

However, if you are expert enough to do it safely then I certainly have no judgement on it. Personally, I wouldn't though.

I will be trying that recipe though. I really does sound delicious and I'm pretty sure my family is gonna love it.

Compostwoman said...

Ah, I understand! :-)

I did say I wouldn't sell it with re-used lids though...and I only tend to re-use them once and check the seal VERY carefully each time...and with the button lids it is obvious if it has failed......

but yes, if in doubt get new lids is the way to go...

glass jars are, of course, virtually endlessly reusable if not damaged...

I think I will edit my post to make this clearer, though, so thank you!