Our next new word for the month of February is Chutney. I just like saying the word, it’s fun…..chutney, chutney, chutney! Ok, seriously, chutney is known as a condiment originating from India. The term chutney means “strongly spiced and is a mix of chopped fruits, vinegar, spices and sugar cooked into a chunky spread. Most chutney is on the spicy-hot side, but it’s easy to adjust the heat factor if you make your own.
Chutney was traditionally served with curried foods. The sweet and tart flavor combined with a touch of spice compliments strong-flavored meats such as wild game, but it also works well with beef, pork and chicken. Chutney perks up cheeses and sweeter/spicy versions of chutney make a fabulous spread for crackers and breakfast toast or bagels.
Is There A Difference Between Chutney And Relish?
Chutney and relish are often used interchangeably in condiment terms. While doing research I could see how there could be confusion and it’s understandable. chutney can be savory, and relishes can be sweet. In general, chutney has a chunky spreadable consistency much like a preserve, whereas relishes are hardly cooked, use less sugar if any and are more crunchy to the bite (think pickle relish).
How Do I Use Chutney You Might Ask?
I discovered there are hundreds, if not thousands of possible combinations with the ingredients for chutney. Most chutney has a fruit base, but many non-sweet vegetables can also be used. Once you get the basic concept down, you can experiment with any number of fruits/ vegetables. Use firm-fleshed, under-ripe fruits such as green mangos, bananas, peaches, apples, nectarines and apricots. Rhubarb and firm or under-ripe tomatoes are also good candidates. My friends told me soft fruits with delicate flavors such as raspberries, strawberries and others will cook down into more of a smooth jam and the flavor of the fruit would be lost. Dried fruits work particularly well in chutney since they retain their texture and they contribute a tart flavor that is offset by the sugar and spices.
The most common chutney spices are ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and cardamom.
If a recipe for chutney calls for an herb, coriander or mint is used. Most chutney recipe will contain some onion and many also include garlic.
Here are some ways you can use chutney,
You can mix chutney with low fat/no fat cream cheese, sour cream for cracker spread or fruit dip.
If you mix chutney with a tablespoon of olive oil, it is a quick marinade or glaze for meats.
Please keep in mind the sugar in chutney will caramelize so add the final glaze when the meat is nearly done to avoid charring and flare-ups on the grill.
Whenever using a chutney mixture as a marinade, be sure to boil it again and cool it before using it as a glaze.
I like to mix chutney with low fat mayonnaise as a spread for my sandwiches.
At first I thought you had to can chutney but after doing some more research I discovered that most chutney will last weeks in the refrigerator due to the acid/vinegar content. If you want to preserve them or make larger batches, then be sure to use the recommended instructions for canning in a water bath, usually 10 minutes in sterilized jars.
A very good tip if you decide to make chutney and not purchase it from the store. Use non-reactive pots when making chutney. The acid in the mixtures will react to iron, copper and brass causing discoloration and pitting to the pot and imparting a metallic taste to the chutney. The same holds true for using the recommended wooden spoons or plastic spoons. I have a friend who learned the hard way – ick!
Spicy and sweet mango chutney makes a great sauce for pork and poultry. You can also pour it over a block of low fat cream cheese.
3 to 4 pounds mangoes (mixed green and ripe), peeled, seeded, and diced
3 medium onions, diced
1 cup currants
1 cup white raisins
1 pound brown sugar
One 3-inch piece of fresh ginger root, minced (or use the refrigerated paste)
2 cups cider vinegar (you can use cider vinegar that has flavor too)
1 teaspoon ground cloves
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1-1/4 teaspoons salt or to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
Place mangoes, onions, currants, raisins, brown sugar, ginger, cider vinegar, cloves, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes in a large cooking pot. Cook until the fruits are softened (but not falling apart) and the chutney is thickened. Seal in glass jars and refrigerate. Wait one day before using or you hand out to friends, it gives the flavors a chance to incorporate even more.
This is an heirloom Florida recipe dating back to the early 1900s.