Chutneys originated in India and the name comes from the word “Chatni”, meaning a strong, sweet relish. Chutneys first appeared in Britain in the seventeenth century. Pickling is an ancient method of preserving fruits and vegetables in season and has been used in Britain since Roman times. Fruit and vegetables used for pickling and chutneys must be fresh and free from blemishes.
Choose a good quality pickling vinegar. Always use a stainless steel or aluminium pan for chutneys and pickles. Never use brass, copper or iron utensils as vinegar will corrode these metals. Chutneys are usually cooked very slowly for a long time to give a rich, mellow flavour and a dark colour. To test when chutneys are cooked, make a channel across the surface in the pan with a wooden spoon. If the impression lasts for a few seconds and does not fill up with vinegar, then the chutney is ready. When ready, pour the hot chutney into warmed jars right up to the brim and cover while still hot. Use plastic-lined lids as vinegar corrodes metal. Chutneys will taste better if left to mature for at least three months, and will keep in a cool, dry, dark place for 2-3 years. Pickles will keep similarly for a year.