Preserving and using chutney! This spicy condiment adds flavor in varied ways.

Chutney is a perfect accompaniment to East Indian food or as an ingredient to enhance the flavor of everyday dishes like chicken, pork or casseroles.

Chutney is a relish type condiment used in traditional East Indian foods. The term ‘chutney’ includes several different varieties of sauce type foods. The main ingredient may be an herb, such as cilantro or mint, a flavoring ingredient such as ginger, or in the most common form, chopped fruit or vegetables, simmered with spices, onion, sugar and vinegar. Fruit based chutneys are usually cooked, then canned or refrigerated.

Fruit chutneys are readily available. Varieties include mango, apple, apricot, cranberry, date, papaya, peach, pear, pineapple, plum, tomato and mixed fruit, to which raisins may be added to complement the texture. The result is a sweet-sour-spicy-hot versatile blend — an adventure for the taste buds. Chutney is a perfect accompaniment to East Indian food; however, it can also be used as a side dish, sandwich spread, dip, an accompaniment to cheese and crackers, or as an ingredient to enhance the flavor of everyday dishes like chicken, pork or casseroles.

Preserving chutneys is accomplished by using the hot water bath technique of canning. Factors that help in its preservation include:

  • Acidity – The acidity (low pH) of the chutney prevents growth of several spoilage and pathogenic bacteria, molds and yeasts. This acidity is derived from the added vinegar and the natural acids of the fruit.
  • Chutneys are cooked prior to canning; this reduces moisture which will kill most microorganisms that may be present.
  • Canning jars are then filled, using proper headspace and two piece canning lids, which are adjusted and then processed in a hot water bath.

Michigan State University Extension recommends always using researched based recipes from reputable sources like USDA or the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Below is a popular chutney recipe.

Apple chutney

  • 2 quarts chopped, cored, pared tart apples (about 10 medium)
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped sweet red bell peppers (about 2 medium)
  • 2 hot red peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1.5 pounds seedless raisins
  • 4 cups brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons mustard seed
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons canning salt
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 quart white vinegar (five percent)

Yield: About six pint jars

Please read Using Boiling Water Canners before beginning. If this is your first time canning, it is recommended that you read Principles of Home Canning.

Procedure: Combine all ingredients; simmer until thick, about one hour and 15 minutes. As this mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking. Pour boiling hot chutney into hot jars, leaving a half-inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; adjust two piece metal canning lids. Process pints for 10 minutes in a boiling water canner. Cool in a draft free location for 12 to 24 hours then check lids and store for later use.

In closing, chutneys add a touch of spice to any meal and make excellent gifts for family and friends.

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