Chutneys and relishes are the savoury cousins of jams and jellies. Where the latter relies on sugar for preservation when it comes to how to make chutneys and relishes it is vinegar that does the preservation work while the sugar is there really for flavouring.
Here’s how to make chutney and relish;
Fruit and veg
Choose your fruit and vegetables carefully making sure that are at their peak of freshness. Use unblemished fruit and always cut out any dodgy bits you find.
This is really important as any mouldy bits that go into a preserve will just encourage more bacteria to form. Banish the bugs to begin with.
Wash fruit and veg just before using and pat dry.
Use a good heavy-based preserving pan made if a non-reactive metal as you are using vinegar.
Start by cooking your onions and vinegar along with your spices tied up in a little piece of muslin or cheesecloth. Simmer for about 20 minutes before adding your chosen fruits like apples, dried fruits etc.
Cooking chutney and relish
Cook the fruit along with the onion spice base for about 10 minutes or until the fruit starts to break down slightly. Now add the sugar and seasoning to the pan and stir.
Chutneys and relishes require a long slow cooking time, unlike their sweeter cousins. Just simmer away and stir now and then to avoid anything sticking to the bottom of the pan. It only takes about 1 – 2 hours to cook a good chutney.
When is chutney/relish ready?
You will know when your chutney is ready for potting when it is nice and thick and there is no more liquid on the surface. Drag a wooden spoon through it right to the base of the pan. If it leaves a nice clear line it is ready to pot.
Remove the pan from the heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes before you start to ladle the chutney or relish into sterilised jars (here is how to sterilise your glassware). Run a clean knife around the inside of the jars to make sure there are no air pockets lurking below the surface.
Storing your chutney and relish
Label your jars and store in a cool dark place. most chutneys will require that they be aged before eating, check your recipe for this.