Friday, 12 April 2013

Spiced Tomato and Caramelised Onion Chutney

OK, so strictly speaking this isn't a cake, bake or dessert... but have you even known me to be particularly strict? Back in October 2012 I was visiting my parents, and as it was a nice day we decided to go have a look around some farm shops in Derbyshire. In one of these farm shops, we found a selection of THE most delicious chutneys I have ever tasted - my favourite being the Spicy Tomato and Caramelised Onion Chutney. Yum, yum, yum.

Anyway, the chutney soon ran into short supply, and we couldn't very well go all the way back to the farm shop in Derbyshire for some more, and since preserving was my "new thing to learn" in 2012, I decided to have a go at making my own based on the ingredients on the back of the jar of chutney.

I've got to be honest, it's not as easy as I thought it would be, especially when it came to working out the quantities (tomatoes, 44%...). I was also unable to get hold of all of the ingredients on the back of the jar, so some get left out, and I added in a few of my own! The tomato skins presented somewhat of a problem - I wasn't sure whether to peel the tomatoes first, or whether to leave the skins on. I decided to leave the skins on, as peeling 750g of small tomatoes really didn't appeal to me. What I found happened was that the skins floated off the tomatoes as they cooked, so I was able to fish most of the skins out. I maintain that fishing out the tomato skins is easier and less time consuming than peeling them beforehand, but if I ever find a more suitable method, I'll update this post!

2 medium onions
1tbsp butter
2tbsp light brown sugar
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
250g on-the-vine cherry tomatatoes
500g baby plum tomatoes
350g distilled malt vinegar
250g preserving sugar
2tbsp tomato puree
6 cardamom pods
2 bay leaves

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
Makes 4 medium jars (approx 275g per jar)

  1. Slice the onions into very thin strips. 
  2. In a large, heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter and sugar on a low heat. Add the onions and stir to coat. Fry for 5 minutes until the onions are tender and starting to brown.
  3. Meanwhile, peel and finely slice the garlic. When the onion is brown, add the garlic, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds to the pan and stir fry for 1-2 minutes to release the fragrance of the spices.
  4. Halve the tomatoes and add these to the pan along with the vinegar and the sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. 
  5. Stir in the tomato puree, cardamom pods and bay leaves, then allow the mixture to come slowly to a steady simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the chutney catching on the bottom. I always find with preserving it's better to cook your jam or chutney on a low heat for a longer amount of time than to cook it on a high heat for a short amount of time - it's probably just a preference, but it works for me!
  6. After 30 minutes, CAREFULLY remove any straggly tomato skins from the chutney with a pair of tongs. Stir the mixture well and then allow to simmer for a further 15 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, sterilise your jars and lids by first washing them in warm soapy water, then rinsing them with hot water, and then baking them in a warm oven until all of the water has completely dried.
  8. The chutney is ready to jar when the mixture has thickened and most of the tomatoes have dissolved (don't worry if you still have a few tomato lumps - it adds texture!) Fish the cardamom and bay leaves out of your chutney, then carefully spoon the chutney into the sterilised jars. Put the lids on the jars tightly, then put to one side to cool. Once cool, store in the fridge for at least a week before eating to allow the flavours to infuse. Once opened, eat within 3 months.

Happy Thoughts


  1. To more easily peel skins from tomatoes, make a shallow 'X" on the bottom, run knife around stalk end to core, then blanch in boiling water for a minute and drop into ice water..skins will slide off.

  2. Check out the detailed tomatoes ingredient list on the chutney jar - tomatoes, tomato juice and citric acid - its identical to canned chopped tomatoes. You get perfectly ripe skinless tomatoes at a fraction of the cost of perfectly ripe premium tomatoes from a supermarket, and no hassle with removing the skins. And the depth of flavour and texture were excellent. Another tip is to add a little cornflour mixed with water about 5 minutes before the end of cooking - this is the starch ingredient listed on the jar and stops the chutney from separating and gives it a more unctuous texture.