Posted: September 19, 2012
How is chutney used? Traditionally chutney is served as an accompaniment to curried dishes, but it compliments a wide range of foods. Serve chutney with poultry or baked seafood; use it as a sandwich spread; incorporate it in a dip; use it as an ingredient in meat salads or casseroles; or serve it with cheese and crackers.
Is it possible to can chutney? Like pickles, the low acid peppers, onion, and seasonings used in chutney must have added vinegar to make the mixture acid enough for safe canning. Otherwise, canning chutney is similar to canning salsa and relishes.
According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation several factors contribute to the preserved nature of chutney. The acidity from the added vinegar and the natural acids of the fruit prevents growth of several spoilage and pathogenic bacteria, molds, and yeasts. Cooking the mixture to concentrate it lowers available moisture that is needed to microbial growth. The cooking step also kills most microorganisms that may be present. Processing the filled jars in a canner uses additional heat to kill spoilage organisms that might contaminate the product as jars are filled and to produce a vacuum seal for later storage. If the two-piece canning lid is applied correctly, air is driven out of the headspace while the jars are in the canner and a vacuum seal is formed upon cooling. For most chutneys a boiling water canning process is adequate, but chutneys with a high vegetable content may require a pressure process. During storage in the sealed jar, oxygen and additional microbial contamination is kept from the product.
Use research based recipes to make chutney. There must be adequate acidity in the chutney to prevent spoilage; never reduce the amount of vinegar or lemon juice in a chutney recipe. Several research tested recipes are available at http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/chutney.html
Sometimes you will notice changes in the quality of chutney during storage. If too much air remains in the jar (from improper headspace or inadequate processing), the oxygen in the jar will react with food components that lead to deterioration of the product such as undesirable changes in color, texture, and flavor.
Keep up to date on safe methods for preserving foods at home by visiting the Penn State Food Preservation web site at http://extension.psu.edu/food-safety/food-preservation.