The rules of the chutney game are simple.
Include onions, apples and raisins.
Don’t burn it.
My earliest memories of chutney were of my grandma putting a mysterious mason jar of weird stuff full of raisins on the dinner table. I never knew what to do with it so I didn’t give it the time of day.
As an adult I spent a bit of time cooking and eating in the UK where chutney is an absolute staple. No cheese plate is complete without a bit of pickle, or some type of sweet savoury spiced preserve. At the farm shop where I used to work we made giant batches of the stuff out of any fruit and veg that needed to be used up. Whether it was apples, pears, peppers, eggplant, even bananas, if it was looking sad or if we had a ton of it to use up, it went into the chutney pot.
I love chutney now. I make it every year around fall, and give little jars of it to a select few friends. I don’t even mind if they just stare at it in their cupboard all year. It’s a comfort just knowing it’s kicking around.
“Your grandma would be so proud” - My mom.
What goes well with chutney?
Grilled cheese sandwiches
Cured meat sandwiches
The list goes on.
More of a Formula than a Recipe
The basic formula I’ve drafted up here will get you pretty far in your chutney making career. There is tons of flexibility in the different fruit and veg you use, but also in the different types of sugar & vinegar and spices you go with.
The sugar can be white or brown, and you can use almost any vinegar under the sun. I would probably steer clear of Balsamic, but apple cider, malt, red wine are all contenders. I’d stick with something on the cheap side though, because you’re using a lot of it and the flavour will mostly get lost in the shuffle.
Where spices are concerned I tend to always use some bay leaves and black peppercorns in a cheesecloth sack, as well as various combos of powders like ginger, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, cayenne, you name it.
Here’s the Formula:
A few words on Canning Methods
I always thought putting food in jars was a big production. You have to wrangle a gigantic canning pot, boil tons of water, get those special jar lifters and buy brand new sealing lids for your mason jars right?
Not when it comes to chutney anyway. Recycled jars with the thin rubbery layer on the lid make perfectly good seals time and time again. Not only that, but you don’t need a big pot of boiling water to sterilize them.
All It takes to sterilize my recycled jars is to arrange them and their lids on a baking sheet and cook them in a 250 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. This sterilizes the jars and softens the seal so they will safely store your chutney for months in the cupboard.
I haven’t attempted this sterilizing method for preserving other foods, but the massive amount of sugar and vinegar in chutney makes it pretty shelf stable as is, and I’ve opened jars after well over a year using this technique and the contents have been perfectly good every time.