Straight from my cheese and pickle sandwich; today’s flavor comes from the pickle part...it’s a rhubarb lemon chutney.
It is sweetly sour, with a slightly chewy, jammy quality. Chutney is a combination of preserved fruits, vegetables, and spices, similar to relish. True chutney originated in South Asia and made its way through various cuisines around the world. Today’s chutney was a combination of citrus, rhubarb, and small, sweet onion, making it a delicious addition to my cheese and pickle sandwich. Chutneys are meant to be a sweet and savory condiment to complement meals and snacks. They are one way to help get all of the qualities of taste included in your meal as well as adding various nutrients without adding extra entrees or larger quantities of food.
Chutneys are made by reducing vinegar, sugar, fruit, veggie and spices down to jam-like consistency. Preserved foods have been part of human food culture for thousands of years. The first recorded use of preserved food was 700 BC although it is assumed preservation of foods was going on well before then.
From a health perspective, chutney one property that chutneys are meant to serve is to aid in digestion. They sweet and sour blend acts as a digestive aid. Other health properties vary with the combination of fruit or vegetables.
Here’s a simple summer chutney recipe:
Fresh Fruit Chutney
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 4 cups chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 8 cups prepared fresh fruit
- 1 cup dried fruit, chopped if larger than raisins
- 1 cup muscavado sugar (if you can’t find any, you can use white granulated or brown)
- 1 cup vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 2 small fresh chile peppers, seeded and slivered lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until light brown, 6 to 10 minutes Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add fresh fruit, dried fruit, sugar, vinegar, water, chiles and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often. Reduce heat to maintain a lively simmer and cook until thickened, 30 to 40 minutes. To test doneness, put a spoonful of chutney on a plate and draw a spoon through the center. If no liquid seeps into the middle, it’s done. Return to a simmer to thicken more if necessary.
If freezing or refrigerating, ladle the chutney into clean canning jars to within 1/2 inch of the rim. Wipe rims clean. Cover with lids. Let the jars stand at room temperature until cool before refrigerating or freezing. Or process in a water bath to store at room temperature .