Chutney is a delicious accompaniment to everything from curry to sandwiches and this simple tomato chutney recipe is a great place to start. So here’s how to make chutney the easy way and begin a preserving journey that will have your taste buds tingling.
Why you’ll love this chutney recipe
- This is a seriously simple tomato chutney recipe, something anyone can follow and get amazingly tasty results.
- Once you have made your own homemade chutney you won’t be buying the store-bought stuff again.
- Making chutney is a great way to use up all sorts of bits and pieces of fruits and veggies so it is economical to make.
What is chutney?
Chutney s a condiment made with fruits, vegetables, spices and vinegar. They originated in India to serve alongside curries but are found in every corner of the globe from the UK to the USA, South Africa to Europe.
Each area has its own specialties. Here in the UK apples are very often used in chutney recipes as they are an abundant fruit in this country. While in South Africa apricots are the fruit of choice.
In India, a chutney can be something freshly made often rather like a sauce and is not preserved in the way that we think of chutney.
What’s the difference between chutney and relish?
Nowadays the terms are almost interchangeable as both condiments are made using chopped-up veggies, vinegar and spices.
However, a relish usually contains just one type of vegetable or fruit whereas a chutney can pack in a variety of fruits and veggies.
Ingredients for basic chutney
I have chosen to make a simple basic tomato chutney today as tomatoes are at their best just now and this is a great way to preserve their sweetness to use all year round.
You’ll find lots of other chutney recipes here on Larder Love, from curried banana chutney (a brilliant way to use up those spotty bananas lurking in the fruit bowl) to my sweet and summery mango and peach chutney and lots more.
Tomatoes – since I’m just making a small amount of chutney I’m only using just 500g of tomatoes. You can use any tomatoes you like to make this tomato chutney, from those gorgeously coloured heirloom tomatoes to tiny toms or huge beefsteak tomatoes.
Red onions – I like the flavour of red onions in my chutney, but don’t panic if you only have standard brown onions, just use those instead, chutney is very forgiving.
Spices – no self-respecting chutney recipe would be complete without some spices. I’ve used a fresh red chilli but feel free to use dried chilli flakes or chilli powder instead. My other spices are ground cumin and ground coriander.
Vinegar – I’ve used red wine vinegar in my basic chutney recipe. This is stronger in flavour than white wine vinegar but way less powerful than malt vinegar which would smother the lovely fresh taste of the tomatoes. Feel free to use apple cider vinegar instead or indeed white wine vinegar.
Sugar – Brown sugar gives a wonderfully warming slightly caramel flavour to your chutney.
The complete list of ingredients and full instructions for making this recipe can be found on the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Your first step in chutney making is to chop those veggies. Since this is just tomatoes and onions it’s not a difficult task. There is no need to peel the tomatoes first, simply roughly chop them.
Finely chop the red chilli pepper and for goodness sake don’t touch your eyes or any other delicate area (!) afterwards until you have thoroughly washed your hands!
How to chop onions without crying
Not everyone cries when they chop up onions. It is an enzyme within the inions that when cut is released into the air and makes some of us tear up.
However, if you do get teary when chopping then make sure you are using a really sharp knife as this will ensure the job is done quicker and there is less tearing of the onion and less enzymes being released into the air.
You can wear kitchen goggles or just a plain pair of specs to place a barrier between the onions and your eyes. Or you can pop the onions into the freezer for 15 minutes before chopping and this seems to help too.
What type of pan do you use to make chutney?
You want to use something non-reactive like stainless steel here, not copper unless it is steel lined as the vinegar will be affected by that metal and you can get a metallic tang to your chutney.
Make sure you are using a high-sided pan to avoid hat splatters.
Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in your pan and add the chopped onions, chopped chilli and spices. Now cook these for about 10 minutes. The onions will soften up beautifully and take on all those wonderful spicy flavours. This is the base for your chutney regardless of what fruits or veggies you choose to add next.
Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan along with the vinegar and sugar and stir this through the cooked onions.
Bring your tomato chutney mixture to the boil then lower the heat and let that chutney simmer uncovered for about 40 minutes.
How do you know when your chutney is ready?
Unlike jam and jelly making where you have to watch out for that magical setting point chutney is much easier to make and know when it is ready.
Simply drag your wooden spoon through the chutney and when it leaves a clear trail on the bottom of the pan your chutney is ready to pot up.
Now all you need to do is carefully ladle the hot chutney into sterilised jars. Check out my post on How to sterilize jars for full instructions on this.
Pop on the lids and set your chutney aside for 2 weeks to mature before using.
Why do you mature chutney?
Most chutney recipes benefit from a wee bit of maturing time rather like a good wine. The reason is that you are using vinegar to make your chutney and this can have a harsh flavour.
By leaving the chutney to mature you are allowing that vinegar and also the other spices to mellow a little and it all just makes your chutney way more tasty.
How long will chutney keep?
You can store your homemade chutney in a cool cupboard for up to a year. Here in the UK and most of Europe we do not use the canning methods so popular in the USA and our preserves keep just fine as they are.
Once you have opened your jar of chutney store it in the fridge and use up within a month.
How to serve chutney
I love using any type of chutney on sandwiches and this tomato chutney is just perfect with a simple roast chicken and salad sandwich.
Chutney is traditionally served as part of a Ploughman’s Lunch (with cheese, ham and bread) in the UK.
Serve chutney with BBQ and any roasts as it is a great accompaniment for meats as cuts through any fattiness and adds great flavour.
Of course, you can serve your chutney in the traditional Indian way alongside a curry.
Spoon some chutney into Greek yogurt to make a super simple tasty dip.
Add a dollop of your basic homemade chutney to soup to ramp up the flavour, you can do this with stews too of course.
Looking for more super tasty chutney recipes to make at home? Then check these out before you go;
Want even more inspiration? Then check out my Chutney and Relish section for a whole host of delicious and easy recipes.
Finally, if you do try this recipe don’t forget to leave a comment/star rating below as I just love to hear from readers. Want more Larder Love? Then follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter and sign up for my newsletter too of course.
How To Make Basic Tomato Chutney
- 250 g red onions 2 large red onions
- 500 g tomatoes
- 1 red chilli
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp salt
- 75 ml red wine vinegar
- 120 g brown sugar
- Peel the onions and chop, chop the tomatoes and finely chop the chilli
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan and cook the onions, chilli, salt and spices for 10 minutes
- Add the tomatoes, sugar and vinegar and stir well
- Bring to the boil then lower heat and simmer for 40 minutes or until a wooden spoon dragged through the chutney leaves a clear trail on the bottom of the pan
- Carefully ladle into sterilised jars and leave to mature for 2 weeks before using