Here comes the rainy season! After all these sunny and warmer days, we now welcome colder air and blustering rain. In a mountain town like Whistler, we all squeal with excitement at water drops falling to the ground, knowing that snowflakes are accumulating atop the mountain peaks. Yes, the days are shorter and darker, and slow season is... well slow. But there are many things we can do to stay happy and healthy during this resting period.
One of the things I love the most about the rainy days of fall is cooking. Whether it be catering to a group of friends for Thanksgiving, or stocking up on homemade soups, sauces and curries, there's always something steaming on my stove. Nothing I love more than coming back from a fresh and wet forest walk with my dogs and entering a cozy, warm home filled with comforting, intoxicating homecooked smells.
A neighbour recently gifted me with an overflowing bag of plums. Their trees produced a true bounty this year with so much gorgeous, hot weather. Plus, my communal garden is still abundant with zuchinnis, kale and green tomatoes that no one seems to desire. Since I grew up in a household where we eat and use every bit of food, I decided to put those to good use and turn them into chutneys.
Indeed, chutney is a great way to preserve a seasonal glut of fruit or vegetables. It also allows us to use damaged fruits from the garden (or the store). Surely, the excess of autumn fruits and vegetables can easily be turned into delicious, tangy chutneys ready to eat in a few weeks. Chutneys are great as snacks, appies or to accompany other dishes. Everyone loves a good chutney, especially if it's made using seasonal, local produce.
What is Chutney?
In India, chutneys are made with vegetables, most often using the very spicy mustard oil for preservation. However, to accommodate Western palates, commercially produced chutneys replaced the mustard oil with sugar and vinegar, and the veggies were replaced with fruit.
Apples, pears and cranberries partner well with raisins, bell peppers and citrus zest. Various spices such as cinnamon, curry and cumin, and other fruits like raisins, sultanas, dates and vegetables such as onion, garlic and ginger are added for the flavour. The vinegars, sugar and salt are there not just for the flavour but they also act as preservatives.
Chutneys not only transform the taste of what we eat but also have a variety of benefits ranging from soothing the tummy to being a detox agent. They include an optimum supply of many neededl minerals and vitamins along with antioxidants, which are necessary for sustaining healthy living. Some of the ingredients present in the chutney help in controlling high blood pressure and diabetes as well as improving digestion and immunity.
To spice up your rainy days, here are 14 healthy, low-sugar (and sugarless) chutney recipes that will take the chill off of any autumn or winter’s day.
Green Tomato Chutney
Frosty nights have arrived here in the mountains. If you're able to salvage some green tomatoes from your garden, this tangy-sweet chutney is a great way to put them to use. The sour goes really well with spicy hints of garlic, ginger and chilli and there’s a great crunch from the cumin, mustard and lentils. Recipe here at Jamie Oliver.
This sugarless chutney works like a sauce or condiment and has the advantage of being very versatile, it can be made of any fruit and/or vegetable, and the combinations are endless. Recipe here at Miss Blasco.
This savory chutney showcases rhubarb’s natural acidity. No refined sugar. Recipe here at Fine Cooking.
Mint also is known for its antibacterial and immunity boosting properties. It is great for digestion and relieves stress. This chutney requires no oil, and is an excellent source of Vitamin C, antioxidants, minerals and fiber. It also boosts immunity and aids in digestion. Recipe here at The Veggie Indian.
Red Garlic Chutney
Quick and easy though it is, this sugarless Chilli Garlic Chutney has a vibrant flavour that makes its presence felt in any recipe! Recipe here at Tarla Dalal.
Sweet Potato Chutney
This sugarless chutney is prepared with sliced sweet potatoes and blended with coconut. Sweet potato is a favourite autumn vegetable that has several health benefits. It is high in vitamin B6 and vitamin C. It also contains iron and can improve the immune system. Recipe here at Hebbar's Kitchen.
When your garden overflows with zucchinis, this is an amazing, healthy chutney to make. Recipe here at Simple Indian Recipes.
Tangy and Spicy Walnut Red Pepper Chutney
This delicious and sugarless chutney is packed with antioxidants, omega-3 fats and phytochemicals. The sweet smoky roasted red bell peppers, tart lemon juice, earthy walnuts and aromatic spices come together to make this a truly luscious chutney. Recipe here at The Delicious Crescent.
Carrot Coconut Chutney
You'll want to try this colourful, flavourful, sugarless and mildly sweet chutney! Recipe here at Cook Eat N Click.
Kale is considered a superfood for its exceptional nutritional values. If your garden is overflowing with kale, considering trying this tasty chutney. It is filled with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Recipe here at Veggi Bites.
Low Sugar Chutneys
Make the most of peach season with this sweet and spicy Peach Chutney. This recipe doesn't require much sugar as the peaches are already very sweet. This versatile chutney goes well with almost anything and everything! Recipe here at Cook With Manali.
Spiced Pear Chutney
This fruity chutney with pears, sultanas, star anise, ginger, cumin and a hint of chilli is the perfect way to preserve a taste of autumn. Recipe here at BBC Good Food.
Sweet and sticky, this onion chutney is the perfect accompaniment to a special cheeseboard. It also makes a great edible gift for friends and family. Recipe here at The Little Blog of Vegan.
Roasted Cherry Tomato, Spring Onion & Pine Nut Chutney
This recipe goes back to the veggie roots of chutneys. Some sugar and vinegar is included, but not as much as in commercial recipes. Delicious as a topping or condiment with sandwiches, salads, veggies, or meat and fish dishes. Recipe here at Worden Farm to Table.
Stock up the store cupboard with this seasonal favourite. Recipe here at Good Food.