Chutney Making Technique
Chutney Making Basics
Equipment and preparation
Before making chutney for the first time ensure that you have some basic essential kitchen equipment
Preparing the vegetables for chutney can be quite time consuming and, unless you have excellent knife
skills, using a food processor can make the chopping step considerably quicker. Check the recipe to see whether the vegetables need to be left overnight layered with salt. This is often required in order to extract excess moisture from the vegetables. Too much water in the end chutney would dilute the vinegar and lessen its preservative effect. Don’t ever omit this step so you may well need to plan ahead, preparing the vegetables the day before you intend to make the chutney. It is also necessary to do this in a non-metallic bowl as the salt has a corrosive affect on metal bowls, which would both damage the bowl and taint the chutney. More water is extracted if a small plate is placed on top of the vegetables and weighted down with something. It can be quite surprising how much the vegetables reduce during the course of making chutney. A large pan, preferably a preserving pan is needed in order to both contain the huge quantities of chopped vegetables at the beginning and to provide a large surface area for more rapid evaporation of the vinegar later on. Again, due to the corrosive properties of chutney it is best to use a wooden, rather than metal, spoon for stirring. Once the chutney has reduced, it will need to be bottled and more information on this stage is given below but for this a ladle and a jam funnel makes this process much easier and less messy.
Chutney making is literally something that should be done behind closed doors, shut off from the rest of the house, and it is not the sort of thing you should try in a studio apartment! When chutney is reducing, pungent vinegary fumes are released which can be quite pervasive. Making chutney is best done on a day when you can have the windows and door to the outside open. It is also better for your health if you can leave the room whilst the chutney is reducing, checking and stirring it occasionally, as it is not advisable to breathe in acid fumes. Always ensure you have a good stretch of time for this stage as it can take several hours but never leave it unattended for more than half an hour, and less towards the end. And always leave the pan uncovered otherwise you’ll get nowhere!