Thursday, 8 September 2011

The trouble with chutney

The green tomatoes didn't really ripen too well on the windowsill, probably thanks to all the clouds loitering around these parts at the moment. Kind souls from all around have offered me chutney recipes as a way to deal with my green tomato harvest. I like sugar, I love vinegar, I adore sweet and sour anything. What could be the problem? I couldn't bear to tell a single one of those kind souls my very unfrugal, unautumnal, unsweet-and-sour worshiping secret.

I hate chutney. I am not a chutney person. I have never met a chutney that I have really enjoyed.

So it came as a surprise to me that I found a spare six hours in my hectic schedule to make chutney yesterday. A simple means to deal with the tomatoes threatening to turn bad, I had planned on giving most of it away, leaving only a token jar for the men of the house to enjoy. I spent several hours scanning recipes hoping to alight across something that appealed; and in so doing, I struck upon the root of my problem with chutney. I have never met a piece of chutney worthy dried fruit that I actually like. Sultanas, apricots and raisins...mollasses-y chewy yuck. And all of the recipes I found were brimming with dried fruit.

With understanding comes healing. I made this recipe up as I went along, using the unripe and half ripe Purple Calabash tomatoes. Aren't they ugliful?

Ugly Tom's Chutney

1.5kg mixed green and under ripe tomatoes, chopped
0.5kg young tart apples, chopped
350g onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, slivered
150g demerara sugar
200g white granulated sugar
200ml balsamic vinegar
150ml white wine vinegar
250ml malt vinegar
1 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Motherload of ground black pepper (I spent several minutes of grinding)
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp sea salt

Simply bring all the ingredients to the boil in a large pan...

Simmer down over a low heat for several hours, stirring frequently as it thickens, until reduced enough to leave a trace when the spoon is drawn through...

Remove the bay leaves, bottle, christen and label.

As for post bottling processing...I did it the traditional British way with quaint disregard for botulism, USDA guidelines, or scalded fingers. Next year I may get organized and take the  prescribed safer route instead (not least because it gives me an excuse to buy pretty Kilner jars).

I like this chutney. This recipe makes just under two litres, most of which I will be keeping for myself ourselves. It tastes like a slightly hot cross between tomato ketchup (which I heart) and brown sauce (which I most definitely don't heart - molasses-y) and I like it. It was my intention to leave them to mature for a few months, but so far one of the small jars is nearly empty. Turns out it makes a nice basis for a sweet and sour marinade and is also a good dip for chips. Not bad for some very ugly fruits.


  1. Your chutney looks good, Benjy and I have been chutneying this week. He also has an aversion to dried fruit and we have to leave it out but the chutney always tastes good.

  2. I also disregard the botulism, meh! I never put dried fruit into my chutneys and they taste great! I did a pear chutney this year and its fab with pork.

    Love your blog

  3. I started pickling last summer - making chutneys and bread and butter pickles. Like you I found most recipes way too sweet so cut back on the sugar from my first batch (and avoided malt vinegar so my gluten friends could eat the results). We pickle and preserve the same way as you - no water bath.

    Your chutney looks wonderful - the idea of hot chips and chutney is scrummy!

  4. Coming out of lurkdom to suggest mixing a bit of curry powder into the chutney and spreading it on cream cheese to use on crackers. Yum! (Of course, I'm one who hasn't met a chutney she doesn't like unless it is so hot my lips fall off!)

  5. Thank you all for leaving a comment. Glad I am not alone disliking dried fruit in otherwise delicious chutneys! I am not a huge fan of curry powder, though the rest of the family is. I am seriously considering adding chipotles next year.

    Incidentally I opened a jar of damson chutney that we were given last Christmas... it was completely delicious (devoid of dried fruit!)... tasting just like Haribo cola bottles of all things!

  6. I LOVE the name of your Chutney!!! So fitting! :)
    I'm a huge chutney fan!

  7. Thank you! I plan to fill up the cupboard with comedy condiment jars to make me smile in the deep winter days :)

  8. It looks wonderful but the star of the slide show has to be the wonderful looking tomatoes - they look fantastic. That is why growing our own is full of such wonderful surprises that cannot be surpassed by dull supermarket perfect produce! give me ugly fruit and veg every time.

  9. I just make my green and left over tomatoes into tomato relish. No additional fruit, just the onions I normally add and a couple of fresh chillies for a bit of heat. I never water bath my pickles either, or my jams :)

    viv in nz


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