Top 5 things to make Pickles and Chutney’s from

Chutney’s, Relishes, Pickles and Sauces are what todays post is all about.  But what is the difference between them?  The answer, as with many of these things, depends on who you ask?  For once Wikipedia is not much help.  They seem to suggest that pickles and chutney’s are both relishes which seems fine until you realise they also consider jam a relish – and perhaps it is, but in my book only when its a jam made from a traditionally savoury ingredient – onions, tomatoes etc.  They seem to use the word relish interchangeably with preserve which isn’t really how I’d define it.

Cookery the Australian Way has a chapter devoted to pickles, relishes, chutneys and sauces.  They advise that, given their strong flavours they be “introduced  gradually into the diets of small children and omitted from the diets of invalids.”  My book is quite dated and I find these little pieces of advice endlessly entertaining.  Anyway they suggest that pickles are generally uncooked fruits or vegetables preserved in vinegar and then flavoured with salt and spices or alternatively sugar and spices.  They helpfully distinguish between sweet and sour pickles.  Things get more interesting when we get to relishes – they suggest that relishes are distinguished from chutneys by being thickened with flour and cooked for a significantly shorter time.  Now the shorter time bit makes sense (I think the vegetables are usually cut a lot finer when making relish), but the flour? – not really sure.  Sauces they suggest are cooked until the vegetables are soft and then strained.  Interesting information but again I’m not sure that is how I’d distinguish them, thinner yes but strained hmmm, I don’t always….  No matter how you distinguish them though chutneys, pickles and sauces are all great ways to preserve vegetables.  All that remains is to tell you which vegetables I think (and fruits) are the best ones to be preserving in this manner.

 1. Tomatoes – I wonder what proportion of the worlds population has never tasted tomato sauce…certainly there would be very few people in the Western world who haven’t.  Love it or hate it, it is the king of sauces and no post about savoury preserves would be complete without mentioning it.  I sometimes think that you could just as easily call tomato sauce a chutney but I suspect this is because my mums sauce tastes a lot like tomato chutney, and thus that’s how I think sauce should taste – Sweet, spicy and tomatoey.

2. Cucumbers – A lot of cuisines pickle cucumbers: from America to South East Asia, to Korea via Eastern Europe there are a lot of people in this world adding vinegar to cucumbers.  My personal favourite are bread and butter cucumbers but I’m also partial to the South East Asian dipping sauces that mix vinegar, chilli, sugar and cucumbers with fish sauce.

3. Beetroot – I have to admit to being something of a devotee of pickled beetroot.  I even like the tinned stuff.  I also enjoy beetroot made into a sweet chutney or relish.  Its earthy flavour seems to lend itself to being soaked in vinegar, spices and sugar.

4. Eggplant- When I think about eggplant pickles I am thinking about the hot spicy ones made in India.  They’ve got the vinegar and sugar like the rest of the pickles mentioned here but with the addition of large quantities of spices, sugar and chilli they hot, spicy and very moreish.

5. Onions – I changed my mind a number of times about what to put in this slot, but my partners love of pickled onions won the day.  Now I have to admit that they are not really my favourite pickle but my mother-in-laws pickled onions are one of my partner’s favourite things to eat.  Personally I prefer onion jam which you could really call a chutney and thus onions earn their place from my palates perspective too.  Is there a nicer breakfast than sausage or bacon on a sour dough roll with onion jam, cooked tomatoes and a bit of avocado on the side?  Yum.  Even  a vego version with meat free sausages can be pretty darn good.  I draw the line a fake bacon though – yuk!

So what have I missed?  Actually I can think of a fair few things but I would love to know what you think make the best savoury preserves.

For anyone interested in childrens books The New Good Life’s Top 5 this week is on that very topic.  Pop over and have a look at what she’s come up with.

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25 Responses to Top 5 things to make Pickles and Chutney’s from

  1. L says:

    Oh pickled onions… I’m drooling now. My parents were not really into preserving things, but they did make batches of pickled onions when I was a kid. Their method now makes me really nervous from a food safely perspective (uncooked onions, room temperature vinegar), but they tasted amazing and we are still alive. I still don’t like pickled onions that are too soft – mum and dad’s ones were crunchy.
    The only one I’d change is chillies instead of eggplant. I’m kinda addicted to cantonese chilli sauce – the type they serve at yum cha. I think it’s based on sweet potato.

    • Liz says:

      I don’t think many nasties get past vinegar do they? If you lived closer I’d send you an eggplant pickle parcel to try and change your mind – it is good especially with rice and a curry. Í have to find this chilli sauce – sounds good, I haven’t been to yum cha for years – must go again.

  2. Daphne says:

    Though I don’t do it, I think the world round pickles cabbage in some way. From sauerkraut to kimchee. I love the Chinese pickled cabbage that I get in restaurants. It is pickled in vinegar. I’ve gotten pickled cabbage in Persian restaurants too. And I’ve never seen an eggplant pickle here. Nor have I seen it in relishes or chutneys. I guess it isn’t preserved that way as often in the US.

    • L says:

      How could I forget kimchee?! Yeah, I think cabbage just bumped beetroot off my list 🙂

      • Liz says:

        I have to say as soon as I wrote the post I thought of cabbage – I quite like sauerkraut, but then thought nah I’ll wait for people to bring it up knowing someone would. So thankyou to you and Daphne.

    • Liz says:

      The eggplant is very north Indian I think. I too have eaten a lot of preserved cabbage on mezze plates. Actually I probably should have inclued cabbage shouldn’t I?

  3. What a great writing! I love to preserve my own fruits and vegetables, it has that unique home made flavor that puts behind all commercial products.

  4. We really do need to make more pickles and chutneys so far we have just piccalilli and beetroot pickle

    • Liz says:

      I’ve attempted to make my partner piccalilli – he is a big fan but so far I haven’t got it quite right. I don’t like it a great deal which I think makes things difficult when trying to replicate flavours…

  5. Have to say I’m rather partial to my Balsamic Pickled Shallots and my Pumpkin, Tomato and Balsamic Chutney-but then I do love Balsamic vinegar!!

    • Liz says:

      I attempted your balsamic shallots recently but realised I didn’t have enough balsamic so they rapidly became apple cider shallots – nice but I suspect not the real deal…

  6. Mark Willis says:

    Cranberries? Made into a savoury relish rather than a sweet sauce. I like the things that are mid-way between sweet and savoury – like pickled pears.

    • Liz says:

      Ooooh cranberries – that sounds interesting. i tried a lovely pear and thyme chutney at a market recently – just divine.

  7. Leanne says:

    I love this post. I have a book that was written in 1911 called the “The Woman’s Book: Everything a Woman Ought to Know”, it can be really funny. I should drag it out and see what it says.

    • Liz says:

      That sounds fun – i suspect there are many things I should know and don’t – a great many may be about ironing…

  8. Veggiegobbler says:

    I am weaning my kids off the shop bought tomato sauce to home made chutney and my eldest loves it. The beetroot and chutney sounds good. The only pickled onions I’ve had are the ones in the fish and chip shop- and they always, instantly give me asthma! Weird.

    • Liz says:

      I wonder what’s in the onions, must be something odd. I have to admit that as a kid I always wanted the shop bought stuff but as an adult that has changed. My kids seem just as happy with the home made stuff – hopefully they will remain so.

  9. My limes are just coming into season, and I’ve been hanging out for a new batch of Rod’s Lime Pickle It’s a mildly hot oil-based Indian style pickle, and sooo good on the side with curry, or (my favourite) on rye bread with a sharp cheese.

    • Liz says:

      I do like lime pickle – delicious. Apparently my mum is gardening sitting a lime tree at the moment with heaps spare so I’ll give that recipe a go.

  10. becky3086 says:

    Very nice post. I don’t make many pickled things because they tend to sit on the shelf and never get used. Sauerkraut is the exception.

  11. Great list Liz, I have green tomato pickles (or should that be relish…or chutney… now I’m confused) sitting on the stove as we speak. I’ve also made a cherry tomato relish earlier in the year. Also in my store cupboard at the moment is your date and beetroot chutney and some mango chutney I made at Christmas time – that would be an addition to my list. It’s great on ham, but also as a side to a spicy Moroccan pita thing I make. Finally I’m not sure if it counts, but I make a savoury fig jam that might make my list.

    • Liz says:

      Have you tried the beetroot yet? I do hope you like it, its Miss 5’s condiment of choice at the moment. Not sure if that is a recommendation or not….

  12. KL says:

    According to Bengali (a part/culture of India), pickles are those that last for many days and months; thus after they are made, they are put out in sun and that sun heat cooks it more and keep it fresh for so many months. Pickle can be either cooked or raw. Chutney are those that are freshly made and are supposed to be finished eating up the day it’s made or maximum can be kept for a day or two. Chutney is always cooked. Pickle can be eaten any time with anything; chutney are kind of like sweet dish and has to be eaten at the end of a meal. Thus, it should be something which your stomach can endure and digest after a meal. I had similar question and also difference among jam, jelly, marmalade.

    • Liz says:

      Isn’t that interesting. I think the name of what I call chutney is Indian but the preservation method isn’t, I suspect they are an Anglo Indian thing – they took English preserving methods and added some indian spices and called the result chutney. At least thats what I’ve always believed. I make Indian chutneys a lot too and they are as you say fresh and eaten on the day they are made. Equally I do make Indian style pickles as well, although to date I’ve skipped the sun step – fascinating method of preservation.

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