Harvesting season is upon us and it’s time to take advantage of the abundance of local products. Many people use their fresh produce to make sweet jam . . . but did you know that you can make savoury jam as well? Veggie jelly—or chutney—is an excellent way to use up your seasonal vegetables. Read on for tips on how to turn your fall bounty into mouth-watering chutney.
The origin of chutney
The word chutney derives from the Hindi word chatni, which means “strongly spiced.” Although originally from East India, chutney rose to fame during the colonial era in the United Kingdom before making its way across the border over time. Chutney is made with fruits or vegetables slowly cooked in a mixture of vinegar, sugar, and spices. It has a slightly thicket texture than traditional jam.
How to use it?
Boasting a tasty medley of spicy, sugary, and acidic flavours, chutney pairs perfectly with a whole host of dishes! There are a ton of varieties to choose from—from the more traditional to the more exotic. The more adventurous can try making a rhubarb chutney, while others might prefer sticking to a simpler recipe, featuring green tomatoes or onions, for example. Here are a few ways to use chutney in your everyday dishes:
- Spread it in a sandwich with chicken and mozzarella;
- Serve it as a side with pork, game, pâté, charcuterie, or cheese;
- Add it to your burger, for an original twist;
- Serve it with meat or vegetarian tourtière.
Tips for a successful chutney
The beauty about chutney? Because there exist hundreds of varieties, you can whip up a batch with whatever seasonal produce you have on hand. Most recipes are made with fruits, but you can also make some with vegetables. For optimal results, opt for firm, ripe vegetables. Red or green tomatoes, cucumbers, rhubarb, zucchinis, pumpkins, beets, or carrots: the sky’s the limit!
Why is chutney so irresistible? Because it has just the right amount of kick! The spices are what make chutney really stand out from other condiments, like relish for example. Depending on what flavours you wish to bring to a dish, here are a few spices to add to your chutney recipe:
- Espelette pepper: to add a bit of heat to your recipe.
- Cinnamon: for a touch of comfort, perfect for reinvigorating you on cold autumn nights.
- Sichuan pepper: to infuse your dishes with a touch of exoticism.
When it comes to what vinegar to use, you have loads of options! White vinegar, wine vinegar, cider, raspberry, or sherry: the vinegar is an important element of the recipe, as it also acts as a preserving agent. Know that the vinegar you choose will affect the chutney’s overall taste. And make sure to use a vinegar that has at least 5% acidity.
How to preserve it?
Chutney can be made ahead of time and preserved in jars, just like sweet jams. In addition to keeping for a long time, this type of condiment makes excellent host gifts! And you don’t have to spend hours making it—it’s actually pretty simple. Here are a few tips to ensure your chutney keeps for as long as possible:
- Sterilize your jars and tops in boiling water, then let dry on a clean dish towel;
- Fill your jars while the chutney is still hot, same as you would with jam;
- Screw the lids on immediately, turn your jars over, and let cool.
Red onion chutney
Ready to make your own chutney? Here’s a great starter recipe!
Makes 1 jar
Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
1/2 cup pitted figs, sliced
2 large red onions
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Chop the red onions and soften them in butter. Add the figs.
- Sauté the onions and figs for a few minutes over low heat. Add the sugar, then deglaze with the vinegar.
- Add the spices and stir.
- Cover and let stew for approximately 20 minutes, then remove the lid and continue to simmer another 10 minutes or so.
- Let cool before serving, or transfer to a jar immediately.
Now that you’re a veggie jelly pro, don’t hesitate to try your hand at more daring combinations—your taste buds will thank you!