Wednesday, September 05, 2007


If I've persuaded you to try your hand at chutney, you'll need a recipe. So here's one (sort of):

Basic Chutney Method

Wash every empty jam jar you own (and go through to cupboard looking for jars that are almost empty and deciding you never liked that sort of jam anyway so you can "claim" the jar) really well, then place them upside down on a baking sheet and put in a low oven to dry out and sterilise.

Finely chop about 5lbs of vegetables (such as tomatoes, courgettes, runner beans, carrots - whatever you've got a lot of) 2 or 3 lbs of apples and one pound of onions. Put these in the largest pan you have with a pound of dried fruit of some sort (raisins, sultanas, chopped prunes, it's up to you), a pound of sugar and 1 1/2 pints of vinegar (don't use malt vinegar if you can help it or your chutney will taste of malt vinegar and not much else). Mix well and bring to a simmer.

Whilst you're going that, place a bunch of whole spices (such as a few whole cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, mace, fresh ginger, whatever you like) in a muslin cloth and tie up well, then dunk it in the chutney and let the flavours seep out.

Feeling nervous? Don't be. Chutney can't really go wrong unless you burn it. It's not like jam or a souffle - it can't fail. I promise. All you're doing is slowly cooking the ingredients down to a thick gloopy mush. You can taste it as you go along, and if you think it needs a chili kick, add some chili. If you think it's too vinegary, add a bit more sugar. Too sweet? Add more vinegar and salt.

It needs to simmer on a low heat for at least an hour or two. You don't need to stir constantly, thank God, but you can't totally desert it or it will burn. It's ready when it's thick and looks like chutney. I told you it was easy.

Now get it into the jars and screw the lids on. It needs to mature for at least a month or two. Before that it will still taste rather vinegary but after maturation it will be smooth and all the flavours will mingle together. Think of an appealing name for your chutney, and be creative - gooseberry and ginger sounds nice, but runner bean and swede isn't so alluring. So if your main ingredients are prosaic you'll have to call it something like "Taste of Autumn Relish", or "Poynton Farmhouse Chutney", or "Mel's Spicy Preserve".

It keeps forever in an unopened jar. Once you've opened it - honestly I've no idea. I've never seen a jar of homemade chutney go off, but I've never seen a jar of homemade chutney last more than a couple of weeks, so the point is moot.


Anonymous said...

"never seen a jar of home made chutney last more than a month"....

how bout 2 years?

made some green tomato chutney and delia's christmas chutney 2 years ago. The first one was a method of using up green tomatoes from the garden, the second as a christmas present. I've still got jars rattling around the fridge!! OH and i just don't do chutney very often. I suppose we should, really. Anyway, you're right about it not going off - OH had some the other day and he's still alive :)


Anonymous said...

A brilliant relaxed recipe for chutney Mel. Well done! You've inspired me to get creative in the kitchen again :)

Sandy xxx

Anonymous said...

For those waiting to dive into the world of chutney (and pickle) making - GO FOR IT. Follow Mel's recipe and you're off. I love my cold meats and chutney, including cold bacon, sausage, white & black pudding sandwiches and use Mel and Steph's chutneys (shud that be CHUTNIES?). In fact, the only shop bought one I use is Mango Chutney and that's only because neither of them has produce one yet, and I adore it. Anyway, if you're tempted to try please don't wait. You'll not regret it.

donna said...

thanks for the recipe. do you think it could be cooked in a slow cooker? or does it need to reduce?

Melanie Rimmer said...

Good question. I've just Googled for "slow cooker chutney" and I found some recipes, so it seems that it can be done. I don't think you could just use my recipe in a slow cooker though, you'd probably need less liquid. I might try a slow cooker version and see how it turns out. Thanks for giving me the idea.

donna said...

mel you have convinced me to have a go at some chutney. what sort of vinegar do you recommend?- the white stuff? i'm going to do either apple chutney or apple and sloeberry

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