Chutney, chatney or chatni comes from the Hindi word "चटनी" which means ‘to lick’, and signifies something tasty. Having been given bags of both green tomatoes and cooking apples on Sunday at church, I decided a batch of chutney was in order. Chutney is easy – lots of recipes on the net.
You just prepare the ingredients, bring them to the boil, let the chutney simmer for a few hours, put it into jars…and then wait 2 or 3 months for the flavour to develop. If you taste it too soon, it will be horrid and vinegary! Here’s some helpful hints from Guardian food writer Jane Baxter
- The ratio of fruit/vegetables to vinegar and sugar will vary depending on the sweetness and acidity of the fruit and vegetables. If you use sweet vegetables, such as carrots, or fruit, such as dates, you will need less sugar. Likewise, if you are using acidic tomatoes you can hold back on the vinegar. As a rule of thumb start with a ratio of 3kg vegetables to 1 litre vinegar and 500g sugar, then adjust for taste.
- Don’t shred your fruit and veg too fine, as you’ll end up with spicy puree; but don’t be too slapdash with your chopping either. Just think about the annoyance of having half an onion falling out of your cheese and pickle sandwich. Daintily chopped vegetables can transform a good chutney into a brilliant one.
- Chutneys get better when left for a few weeks. They mature. So try not to eat them at once.
- Be aware that it’s often cheaper to buy jars with food in them than empty jars. Become a jar hoarder. Put them through the dishwasher on highest setting and they will be clean, hot and sterile, and ready for filling.
I began by chopping the onions and cutting the tomatoes into halves and quarters before breakfast, and then sprinkled them with 3tsp of salt. I left them to macerate [lovely word] for a couple of hours. I also measured out the chopped apples, brown sugar and sultanas and mixed in 2 tsp ground ginger for added spice.
Then I drained the tomatoes and onions through a sieve [the salt draws out any bitter juices, and greatly improves the finished taste] Everything was mixed in a large Le Creuset casserole, and brought to the boil, whilst I stirred it constantly. At this point you can turn the heat right down, and leave it to simmer, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan. OR if you have a busy day and need to go out, very carefully transfer the boiling chutney into your slow-cooker, and leave it bubbling away on high for about 5 hours. Then carefully decant into jars using a jam funnel to avoid scalding drips. Put the lids on whilst chutney is still hot, and give them a half turn – tighten them up fully later.
I used around 2kg of veg [tomatoes, onions, apples and sultanas] and 300g of dark brown sugar plus 2 tsp ground ginger. 300ml of malt vinegar proved about the right amount. I’ve prepared some labels for the jars – and those kind people who donated the fruit will each be receiving a jar as a Thank-you!