They are usually a mix of spiced fruit and vegetables slowly cooked in vinegar for a couple of hours and flavoured with a selection of spices. In fact the term chutney comes from the Indian ‘chatni’ meaning ‘strongly spiced’.
It can also last for a long time in the cupboard, and in fact is best left for 3 or 4 months before using as the flavour will mature, and so long as you stick to a similar ratio of fruit, veg, sugar, and vinegar it can be made out of pretty much anything. Have a look at some of our recipe suggestions for inspiration.
Making chutney is simple. Chop all the fruit into small cubes about 1cm square, and then add all the ingredients into a large pan. If using whole spices tie them up in a 20cm piece of muslin, and add this to the pan too. Then bring to the boil and simmer uncovered for 2 ½ to 3 hours until the mixture is glossy, thick, rich in colour and well reduced.
You will know when the chutney is ready when you can pull a wooden spoon through the mixture, and its thick enough that you can see the base of the pan for a few seconds. Then simply remove the spice bag, and pot into sterilised jars (you will need to find jars with vinegar proof lids).
Put into nice jars and labelled well these can make excellent gifts at Christmas.