Introduction to Jam Making (Part 4) – Green Tomato Chutney

For our final week in ‘jam’ month we’re making Green Tomato Chutney, brought on the by the late glut we harvested the other day. It’s been a terrible tomato (and courgette, etc.) year for us so this late harvest is very precious, and we thought chutney might be the nicest way to enjoy it over the coming months. Chutney purists might not be impressed with how I make my chutney… but it works for me, and I enjoy eating it, and so far it’s never lasted long enough to go off. This week’s tutorial is all about the method of how to make chutney rather than a recipe with specific amounts. You see, you’ve got this. You’ve made three kinds of jam and you know what it’s going to look like, and you’ve done all the steps, so now it’s time to trust that and take it from there. You know how to make jam by now, you really do!

To me, chutney is a kind of chunky savoury jam, so that’s what I’m aiming for in my method. Here are a few caveats upfront:

  • I use less sugar than most recipes call for because I don’t like it to be too sweet. This makes it less shelf-stable, so I make smaller amounts that we’ll eat within 2 months
  • I don’t like as much vinegar either, particularly when my base is something acidic like tomatoes
  • I don’t mind bigger chunks so I don’t chop up my ingredients as finely as many recipes call for
  • I roast my tomatoes first because the cooker is running all the time anyway. If you don’t have this kind of setup then you could pop it all straight in the pot. I don’t think roasting necessarily saves on cooking time, it just makes it taste differently
  • This takes a really long time – several hours – but for most of that time it doesn’t need you. Cook it on really low heat and stir it ever so often – like, every 20 mins/half hour. You can go about your day while it cooks. In the time that the chutney cooked in the video I went for a dog walk, had a nap, and I had 4 cups of tea!

To me, chutney has several key ingredients: the main veg; a dried fruit; fresh fruit that will turn mushy; spices; onion and garlic; vinegar; sugar/honey. In this version, I’m using green tomatoes; dried figs; an apple; cumin, all spice, cinnamon, salt, chilli flakes; onion and garlic; homemade apple-scrap vinegar; sugar and honey. As you’ll see in the video I accidentally chucked in far too much all spice so it ended up tasting quite christmassy, but that’s fine – it’s nice and I don’t really mind that. 

In terms of amounts – it depends on how much you want to make, and you can see in the video that the baking dish full of tomatoes made three jars (one of which was admittedly quite big). I could have added more apples to stretch it but I wanted it to taste predominantly of tomatoes! The formula in my head is something like: twice as much veg as fruit (apple and dried fruit together); as much ‘sweet’ as fruit if using only sugar – if you add in honey you can get away with a lot less sugar because it tastes more intense; a good slug of vinegar (like the slug of lemon juice in other jam) – but start with less than you think and add in more if it’s not acidic enough; as much onion and garlic as fruit (by volume rather than weight); more salt than you think – salt it, and then salt it some more. 

But really, it’s a case of ‘chuck things in, see what it tastes like, add spices to change taste, cook until there’s no liquid left, decant into sterilised jars’.

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