Thoroughly Modern Chutneys and Relishes

Think beyond cranberry relish. A delicious world awaits the creative cook!

By FamilyTime


Cranberry relish – either homemade or scooped from a can – is as expected as the turkey on the holiday table. But don’t let this be the only meal where you serve relish or chutney.

Vegetable and fruit relishes and chutneys are welcome at more everyday meals, too. Serve them alongside chicken, pork, lamb, beef, and seafood. Spoon them into sandwiches and spread them on crackers.

What’s the Difference Between Chutney and Relish?
There is not much difference between these two dishes, although relishes tend to be a little spicier than chutneys. Both were devised to jazz up mild-flavored dishes (imagine a hot dog without relish) or, conversely, to temper the heat of other dishes (slightly sweet chutney as antidote to hot curry).

The difference actually lies in the cuisine of origin. Chutneys have roots in Indian cooking, while relishes are more often aligned with Western cuisines.

Fresh or Cooked?
Most relishes are made from pickled vegetables or fruit. Some of the most popular are piccalilli, corn relish, and November’s seasonal favorite: cranberry relish (which is not pickled).

Chutneys may be long-cooked or fresh. Fresh chutneys are more authentically Indian, where all manner of zippy or subtle chutneys are made with a wide range of fresh herbs, spices, and fruit.

The British in India were fond of slow-cooked chutneys to accompany curries and similar dishes. These nearly always consisted of green mangoes – the most famous to this day being Major Grey chutney.

Devised to be eaten with Indian dishes, most chutneys are equally superb with roasts and grilled meats, poultry, and fish.

Go Wild with Relishes and Chutneys
For home cooks, the task of making fresh or cooked chutneys and relishes is a pleasant one. They are easy and flexible, take well to experimentation, and can be made ahead of time.

You can add any number of the tempting dried fruits available these days to fresh fruits for interesting chutneys, including fruits such as dried figs, apples, cranberries, blueberries, or cherries. Old favorites such as raisins and dried plums (prunes) are delicious additions, too.

You can flavor cooked or fresh relishes with apple cider, orange juice, lemon juice, or cranberry juice. Add excitement with a splash of cider, rice, or wine vinegar.

Chop fresh or crystallized ginger and stir it into the mix. For crunch, add some chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds, pistachios, or pinenuts. Season the chutneys with cilantro, mint, or another herb.

Plan Ahead
Fresh relishes and chutneys keep for at least three days in the refrigerator. When they are judiciously flavored with sugar or with acidic ingredients such as vinegar or citrus juice, they will keep a few days longer.

Cooked chutneys last longer – up to three months in the refrigerator. Many actually develop their flavor with storage, so go ahead and make chutney several weeks before you plan to serve it. Store it in a tightly lidded container in the ‘fridge.

Make enough so that you will have plenty to serve at a planned occasion -- despite the numerous times you dip into your supply in the meanwhile!