This year’s Hot Mango and Tomato Chutney is in the jars. I make some version of this every year around this time, when mangoes, tomatoes and chilies are all available in glut proportions. It’s never quite the same. A jar of home-made chutney on the shelf is one of those kitchen magician pantry items – it allows you to magic a meal out of a fridge that is nearly bare. It transforms a very plain dhall or vegetable slice or lentil patties into a dinner guests worthy meal. I really like pantry items like that. They allow you to use up the last of things in the fridge and save you from “having” to go shopping when you have better things to do.
There’s some basic chutney concepts to follow, but from then on, it’s infinitely variable.
The Base Recipe:
Sterilize some jars by boiling for 20 minutes or pressure cooking for 10.
Place in a heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil:
4 medium under-ripe mangoes, peeled, seeded and diced
6 under-ripe tomatoes, sliced
teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 chopped onions
1 cup currants
4 red chillies, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh coriander or culantro, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 cups malt vinegar
2 cups brown sugar
salt to taste
Simmer gently for 10 minutes and adjust the salt to taste. Then simmer very gently, stirring, until mangoes are soft and mixture is jam-like. Bottle in the hot sterilized jars.
The recipe is very variable:
You can use just about any sweet fruit in place of the mangoes, (though I do think mangoes make the absolute best chutney). This time I added a few tamarillos just because I had them, but apples, pears, peaches, plums and apricots also all make good chutney. You can use over or under ripe fruit – under gives you a better tart edge, over gives you a jammier chutney. I like under better.
You can use just about any vegetable as well as or in place of the tomatoes, but if you use a non-acid vegetable, you should increase the amount of vinegar. I added half a tromboncino and half a small pumpkin to this one.
You can increase or decrease the amount of chili. This time I left out the cayenne but doubled the chili for a hot-sweet chutney.
You can use sultanas or any other dried fruit in place of the currants, or leave them out altogether (though I do think the little pops of sweetness add to it).
You can increase or decrease the ginger and garlic and onion (though I do think the essence of a good chutney is that sweet-hot-acid balance, so you need some onion and ginger at least).
You can vary the spices. This time I added a couple of teaspoons of nigella seeds to bring up the peppery taste.
You can vary the herbs . This time I used lime basil in place of coriander, but I’ve also used Vietnamese mint, Thai basil and mint.
You can decrease the amount of salt. Salt is not the major preserving agent in chutney, so it is just for the taste really, but it’s all about balance so a bit of salt is good.
But there are bits you can’t change:
The vinegar is important. Chutney needs to be acid enough to preserve safely (and “safely” means safe from the risk of botulism, so it’s a big safely). So you need two cups of vinegar if you use tomatoes, more if you use a non-acid vegetable.
The sugar is important. You can decrease it a little bit if your fruit is ripe and has its own sugar and you have included a sweet dried fruit like currants, but the sugar is needed both to help it thicken and set, and to preserve it against mould. The sugar works with the pectin in the fruit to give chutney that jammy consistency, so if you use a sugar substitute, your chutney might be runny. It also helps with the preserving – not as vital as the vinegar but useful to extend the shelf life. You only eat a very small amount of chutney as a condiment, so unless you are really religiously avoiding sugar, add the sugar. If you are avoiding sugar altogether, make just enough to use fresh.
The cooking time is important. You need to cook it until it is thick and jammy, (both for a good chutney texture but also to preserve it safely) and then bottle it straight away in hot sterilized jars. (Be very careful – hot chutney or jam makes the worst kind of burn).
Home-made chutney is one of those things that is so different to the bought kind that it makes a good gift. It’s a wonderful accompaniment to a whole range of recipes. These are the ones I’ve linked back to the recipe with over the last couple of years of blogging, but it works with any kind of curry or vegetable patties or slices.