Unlike a pickle which should be vegetable-based, a chutney should be fruit-based. This means that, even if it contains acidic ingredients such as vinegar or tamarind, chutney should always offer sweetness. There will be plenty of spices – perhaps even the same mixture as used in pickles – and brown sugars are commonly used, which helps create the usual golden/brown/black-ish colour.
Chilli is widely used, which can sometimes mask the other flavours. Chutnies are more useful at the table and more widely enjoyed if they are only mildly hot.
Widely available commercially and simple to make at home.
Choose the best
A good chutney is quite firm, often with noticeable pieces of fruit, although the cookery may have turned them into a puree. If a chutney is runny, the cooking time has probably been skimped; it should be firm enough to sit on a piece of ham or pork pie all the way to the mouth and not run away with itself.
Chutney that has been properly made will have excellent preservative qualities of its own, even after opening. However, to be certain, it’s probably better to keep them refrigerated once opened.
Chutney is usually served at room temperature as a condiment. But it can be used in sauces, stuffings, to make flavoured butters, stirred through hot or cold rice, as a marinade or cooking medium for braised meats and, even, to flavour mayonnaise – Coronation Chicken only comes to life when mango chutney is stirred through the mayonnaise-based sauce.
Find lots of delicious recipes in our chutney pickle, jam & chutney collection.