I hadn’t planned to make chutney this year, but faced with nearly a kilo of green tomatoes that just refused to ripen and a sack of apples that our neighbours brought around from their tree, I had to do something. I hate wasting food, especially produce that I have grown.
And so I realised that chutney was inevitable, and .., as I always do, I looked up various recipes, realised I didn’t have quite what I needed, and improvised a bit.
The thing is, in this kind of cooking & preserving, you can get away with a bit of a riff on the original recipe. As long as you have a bit of an idea which ingredient works well with others, an understanding of the technique and the idea behind the recipe you can create all kinds of variations on a theme. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, that the outcome will be a bit different each time is one of the most charming things about this kind of cooking.
I’m fairly new to making chutney, despite my Maternal Grandmother teaching me how to make her legendary Tomato Relish, and passing me on the recipe. This isn’t her recipe, hers requires a glut of almost overripe tomatoes which I didn’t really have, although I’m sure at some point I will. Helping her make her famed Relish, and then recreating it later enabled me to understand a bit about how to make a good chutney. Which is…
The key to creating a good chutney, is layering different levels of spice and flavour, in order to preserve a glut of… whatever it is you have a glut of… I’ve eaten all kinds of sweet, tangy, and savoury spreads… the best always have a pleasing resemblance to their original main ingredient (s) , with a hint of sweetness, a tang of vinegar, and a layering of spices that intrigue the palette.
I love to add chutney to a salad sandwich, or TLAT (Tofu, Lettuce, Avocado, Tomato sammie) or to layer onto a cracker with cream cheese (I’ve just found a really amazing one called Sheese that is quite probably the best vegan cheese I’ve tasted!… I’m not a huge fan of most vegan cheese- they taste like plastic, but this has more than a passing resemblence to one of my fave French-style herb cheeses..and is totally YUM!), or to give out as pressies at Christmas time.
Anyway, use this as an idea, something to inspire you to create your own version to use up that glut of tomatoes, or apples… carrots or chillis. Or a combo of all.
- 1 kg (ish) green tomatoes, roughly chopped
- approx 800g chopped apples (around 1 kg before coring & chopping)
- 3 - 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 200g brown sugar
- 200 ml malt vinegar
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 3 chillies finely chopped
- 1 inch piece ginger, peeled & finely chopped
- 1 Tbs salt
- Make sure everything is chopped
- Put all ingredients in a heavy saucepan & simmer for around 2 hours, until it looks like a 'chutney' - use a potato masher to break up ingredients a bit if necessary.
- Sterilize jars & spoon in & seal.
- Leave for at least 3 weeks for the flavour to develop/
- To sterilize jars, either put them through the dishwasher and use hot, or wash with water & pop on a low heat in the oven, which evaporates the water whilst the heat sterilizes the jar.
- As I don't have a dishwasher, I boil the lids, and use metal tongs to pull them out & position them on the jars.
- This makes around 3 x 500 ml jars.