CHUTNEY is not just for Christmas. A spoonful can put sparkle in a dish at any time of year. Add it to the end of stir frying, stews, pies, mashed potato, rice, pasta dishes.
The combination of sweet and sour tastes and the pulpy texture can rescue tired leftovers. Traditionally served on the side with cold meats, try adding it to dried out stuffing and heating gently in a low oven (or microwave) until warm to serve as an extra on the side, or sprinkled over pasta which has been drizzled with olive oil.
Cheese and crackers is the obvious pairing for it.
Chutney is easy to make. Simmer the basics of 1kg each apples and onions, peeled and chopped, with 500g brown sugar, and 1 litre cider vinegar.
Add more texture with a handful of raisins and sultanas, a few dates or prunes.
Add 1tsp each dry mustard and curry powder, some salt and pepper. Leave the lid on until the apples and onions are soft, then remove it and boil rapidly until the liquid has evaporated.
Fill clean, warm jars and cool completely before placing lids on top. This keeps for two years.
All eight sauces here are excellent products (housed in environmentally friendly glass jars) with tasters hard pushed to nominate their first preference.
Simply Better Irish Bramley Apple & Fig chutney 300g €2.79
Apples 32% and 30% figs form the base of this mixture flavoured with raisins and spices, providing a delicious balance ideal for gentler flavours – turkey, fish.
A good product, made in Cork, all tasters liked it.
M&S Spiced Apple & Pear Chutney 320g €2.20
Full flavoured with good fruit plumpness from 37% apple and 9% pear purée, onions and sultanas which is more solid than other samples with nice chunks of fruit.
Flavours are gentle with ginger and mixed spice sweetened by black treacle providing its dark colour. Made in Britain.
Ballymaloe jalapeno relish 280g €3.49
It’s hard to beat this brand’s Original Relish, the benchmark against which all others are judged. With more heat, this will appeal to the adventurous.
In a base of red peppers and tomatoes, the jalapenos were only too hot for one taster. Add to stews instead of curry spices for a quick lift.
Cuts through the fat of cold pork beautifully. Made in Cork.
Green Saffron Mango Chutney €3.99
Solid, small cubes of mango as expected are bitter-sweet and sweetened by dates and spiced with warm turmeric, cardamom, cumin, nutmeg, cinnamon and rose petal.
Delicious on the side with spiced dishes, and with fried/grilled fish, chicken and lamb. Made in Ireland.
Lidl Deluxe Ploughmans Plum Chutney 290g €1.59
A decent 42% plums with apple, sultanas, and a hint of ginger provides a good balance of sweet and sour, with a less chunky texture than we expect of a Ploughman’s.
Good price. No indication of where it was produced.
SuperValu Signature Tastes Beetroot Relish 280g €1.99
A distinctively fresh beetroot flavour will be delicious with leftover ham, and with its hint of horseradish and some sweetness, on the side with smoked fish, particularly mackerel. Nicely pulpy with small chunks.
Quite sweet. Made in West Cork.
Janet’s Country Fare Ploughman’s Chutney 210g €4.79
Onions, tomatoes, courgette, sultanas, red peppers, ginger, mustard seeds combine to make a well-balanced, spicy, plump, not oversweet chutney.
A good all-rounder. Tasters thought it pricey. Made in Co Wicklow.
G’s Gourmet Preserves Red Pepper relish 280g €3.09
Strips of red pepper, tomatoes, onions are punctuated with raisins gently spiced with ground ginger, salt and nutmeg.
More for the faint hearted who like a sweet chutney with their leftover turkey. Made in Co Laois.