Fresh From Your Garden: Tomato Chutney Recipes

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The perfect selection of vegetables to make great home-made chutney

By the time I've canned and dried a good supply of tomatoes, the sight of more fruits ripening doesn't get me excited until I think about making chutneys. Whether red or green, tomatoes make an ideal base for these increasingly popular big-flavour condiments.

The concept of chutney comes from India, where thick, spicy sauces fill condiment bowls on every dinner table. Most traditional Indian chutney recipes are not as sweet as those enjoyed in the West, which is due in part to the recipe used to make Major Grey's Chutney, which has been popular in the UK for 150 years. Major Grey's gets its sweetness from mango and high fructose corn syrup, balanced with acid from vinegar and lime.

In place of exotic ingredients, you can make chutney using garden tomatoes, onions and peppers combined with apples, pears and other seasonal fruits. The sugar/acid balance of chutneys make them a home canner's dream. Combined with an hour-long cooking time, microorganisms are not likely to survive in home-canned tomato chutneys. However, home canning practices for chutneys vary between Europe and the US.

  • In Europe, most home canners thoroughly heat clean canning jars in boiling water, quickly fill them with boiling hot chutney, screw on fresh lids, and they're done.
  • In the US, guidelines from the National Home Food Preservation Center call for processing chutney in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes after clean, hot jars are filled with hot (but not boiling) chutney.

In my experience, both methods work, but I prefer the water bath approach because it reduces the chance that I'll burn myself with boiling hot chutney. And, because I often give jars of chutney as gifts, I like knowing that each one is perfect. When kept in a cool, dark place, properly canned chutneys make great eating for at least two years.

Red tomato chutney
Red tomato chutney

Tomato Chutney Recipes

One of the wonderful things about tomato chutney is that you can make small batches when you have only a few tomatoes in need of attention. Below I offer two versions – a rich red tomato chutney recipe for soft, juicy fruits, and a lemony green tomato chutney for fruits gathered from failing plants, or before the first frost.

Don't be intimidated by the long lists of ingredients, because most of them are spices. Also feel free to turn the heat up or down with hot peppers, according to your taste. Actually making chutney is a simple matter if putting the ingredients in a pot, and cooking them for about an hour. All the while, your house will be filled with the pleasing pungency of garden tomatoes kicked with exotic spices.

How will you use your chutneys? Serve them alongside vegetarian curries, use them as a dip for pita chips or oven-fried potatoes, or put them to work as glazes for roasted meats. They are great spread on sandwiches or used as a surprise pizza topping, When you need a quick appetiser, simply cover a block of cream cheese with chutney, and break out a box of crackers. The day I kitchen-tested these recipes, Roger and I ate both chutneys on sweet corn at dinner, and slathered them on breakfast burritos the next morning. Eating from the garden does not get much better than this.

Ripe Tomato Chutney

Yield: 2 cups (four half-pint/280 ml jars)

4 cups (1 litre) coarsely chopped tomatoes (5 to 6 medium/large tomatoes)
2 medium to large ripe peppers, diced
1-2 medium apples, pears or Asian pears, peeled and diced
1 jalapeno or other hot pepper, diced (optional)
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons fresh ginger root, minced
¾ cup (180 ml) raisins, currants, or dried cranberries
½ cup (120 ml) cider or red wine vinegar
¼ cup (60 ml) sugar
¼ cup (60 ml) brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon each cinnamon, cumin, and allspice

Place all ingredients in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Stir until the mixture boils, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, until the chutney is thick. Stir often to prevent sticking, especially as the chutney thickens. Spoon into hot, sterilised jars. Will keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator, 2 years or more when canned.

Green tomato chutney
Green tomato chutney recipe, canned and ready for storing

Green Tomato Chutney

Yield: 2 cups (four half-pint/280 ml jars)

4 cups (1 litre) coarsely chopped green tomatoes (about 10 small tomatoes)
1 mature green pepper, diced
2 medium apples, pears or Asian pears, peeled and diced
1 jalapeno or other hot pepper, diced (optional)
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons fresh ginger root, minced
Rind and juice of one large lemon (2 teaspoons rind, 2 Tablespoons juice)
½ cup (120 ml) white or rice wine vinegar
½ cup (120 ml) sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
¼ teaspoon each cinnamon, allspice and turmeric

Place all ingredients in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Stir until the mixture boils, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, until the chutney is thick. Stir often to prevent sticking, especially as the chutney thickens. Spoon into hot, sterilised jars. Will keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator, 2 years or more when canned.

By Barbara Pleasant

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Comments

 
"This is only great. Thanks, thanks. Love it. Keep the good work up."
david Pender on Saturday 18 September 2010
"I have huge fig trees in my garden (in rural France) so home grown (or more likely neighbour grown) tomatoes, onions, chilli peppers, apples, pears and figs make a lovely sticky chutney."
P Howard on Tuesday 12 October 2010
"MMM, I wonder if eggplant would be good in there as well. Figs sound like a great idea. What else in season would be good? Squash, pumpkin? I think I'll stick to the original recipe suggested since I've never made this before. Thanks for the great idea, it's just what I was looking for-what to do with all the last of the tomatoes."
Brenda on Wednesday 20 October 2010
"Eggplant, squash and pumpkins probably would make a good chutney, however you cannot be sure of its safety after canning it. Those vegetables are low acid and would need to be pressure-canned. If you use them, refrigerate your chutney until you send your made-up recipe to the extension service for vetting. "
Lucinda on Friday 23 September 2011
"Will be trying out chutney recipe today. Thanks"
Daphne Williams on Sunday 23 September 2012
"I tasted the best chutney EVER this summer in a cafe/deli in Lincoln I asked to buy some and it was the only one they did not sell but they told me surprisingly the mystery flavour was banana a SO I used this recipe and added diced a banana~ absolutely perfect Thank You "
Katie Rowe on Tuesday 29 October 2013
" I'm making green tomato relish and the recipe says to leave the vegetables overnight in a salty brine. I'm running behind; should I rinse the brine before refrigerating them to cook tomorrow, or leave them in the brine for another night?"
Faye on Wednesday 9 September 2015
"I'm confused about the yield on both of these recipes… If it makes 2 cups, wouldn't that be 2 half-pint jars since one cup is half a pint?"
Pat on Thursday 31 August 2017

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