How-To Sweet & Spicy Plum Chutney
The main question we found ourselves asking during the recipe development for this How-To, in particular, is what differentiates a chutney from a jam, and a jam from a jelly. I was stumped, I know jams are sweet and usually quite high in sugar but the lines blur with the ingredients. So we took to Google for the answer. One of the main differences comes down to pectin content (a gelling agent that is found in the cellular walls of fruit), adding acid to this pectin will turn the liquid to gel. Let us break a down even further so we’re all on the same page:
Jams contain multiple fruits that are either high in pectin or have added pectin, are pureed and contain a larger amount of sugar, while jellies are made from a strained fruit gel, with fruit pulp and other sediments removed. And finally, a chutney is made with heartier fruits and spices, uses no pectin and generally has very little to no sugar.
Chutneys are often used in Indian cuisine, and can often be found in main meals, but because they’re so simple to make, requiring very basic equipment and ingredients that they can be adapted to extend to desserts and even breakfasts. Choosing the fruit then becomes essential to create the right flavour profile for a specific use. Experimentation is super important and what better way to experiment than with seasonal, abundant fruit.
1. Choose your Flavour Balance
In some cultures, fruit chutneys are eaten with almost every meal, making it one of the most versatile accompaniments. Because it can be eaten with practically everything, it’s advisable to make it in bulk and with whatever is in season at that time. You can visit your local market, gather up all the seasonal fruit and get cooking. During this time of year, stone fruits are in abundance and found at every grocery store and market. If you’re going with a sweet fruit like plums, make sure to keep the rest of your ingredients low in sugar, and preferably spicy, depending on your taste preference.
Depending on what type of flavour profile you’re after, you could stick to adding Indian spices (cumin seeds, fennel seeds and mustard seeds), this will work well with sweeter fruits like plums and grapes, complimenting their sugary base.
2. Decide on your Ratio
Choosing the right ratio of fruits and spices is as important as choosing the right fruits. We worked on a 2:1 ratio (2cups of plums to 1 cup of grapes), making sure we added more plums than grapes as we wanted this to be the more dominant flavour.
3. Chop Chop Chop
Once you’ve chosen your flavours, decided on your ration, its time to decide how chunky or smooth you’d like your chutney to be and chop accordingly. We prefer ours a little chunkier and chopped some of our plums into bite-sized pieces, but kept some quartered and grapes whole for variation.
4. Reduce and Simmer
Add your grapes, plums, one cup of water, the zest and juice of one lemon, 1/4 cup or less sugar, ginger and salt. Raise the heat to medium-high and let it boil for 15-20 minutes. Gently stir every now and then. We like our chutneys to be quite thick, let it boil for the entire 20 minutes. If you like yours more liquid-y, then you can stop earlier. Also, remember the chutney will also thicken as it cools.
Fruit chutneys are so versatile that they can be enjoyed with anything from salty poppadoms to your mothers peach cake (which we’ll be sharing soon) or even with simple coconut yoghurt. Fruit chutneys will also keep up to 4 weeks in the fridge, giving you ample time to enjoy it.