What distinguishes chutney’s from other forms of pickles is the unique combination of fruit with vegetables; the savoury mingling with the sweet. According to fermentation experts all chutneys would have originally been fermented though I’m not 100% sure about this assertion. I suspect many traditional chutney recipes would have been cooked and preserved with some form of rice vinegar. It is true that most modern recipes require the cook to simmer the ingredients on a medium heat until it has transformed the raw food into the common chutney texture we are all familiar with today. The tangy sourness deriving from the use of vinegar not lactic acid – two different things.
The recipe listed below is a lacto-fermented chutney – neither raw nor cooked. The process of fermentation is just as transformative as is the process of cooking. Lacto-fermentation transforms the condiment from a state of rawness into a more effervescent, more nutritious, preserved form of food that compliments so many cooked dishes especially, though by no means exclusively, a hot curry. Rather than destroying the water soluble vitamins present in the fruit such as vitamin C (as happens when cooking food over 60 degrees centigrade) the process of lacto-fermentation will retain and in some cases even increase the vitamin content, it will allow enzymes to work in harmony with beneficial micro-organisms and it will result in the amplification of desirable flavours.
In an initial phase the chutney will be effervescent and fizzy; the result of the yeasts consuming the sugars and releasing carbon dioxide. It will be mildly alcoholic but that will be hardly perceptible to the palate. Delightful and delicious. As the fermentation proceeds it will turn progressively more sour; the result of LAB’s consuming the sugars and secreting lactic acid. Tangy and desirable. The sourness is a sign that the fermentation has succeeded. Unlike other salt vegetable fermentations, which can last up to twelve months, a fruit chutney fermentation should be consumed within two months.
1 ripe mango,
1 chilli pepper,
½ root of chopped ginger,
spring onion or red onion, mint,
2 teaspoons of salt,
2 teaspoons of muscovado sugar,
½ cup of whey.
Peel and chop the mango into small pieces and place them in a bowl.
Chop the chilli, onion, mint and ginger into small pieces and add to the chopped mango. Add the salt and the sugar and stir into the mixture.
If you like the taste of it raw you can eat it now – it tastes great but it will not last and will have to be consumed within a week. It will also not contain the all important beneficial micro organisms.
If you decide to continue to the next step add half a cup of whey. This is important because it will increase your chances of successful fermentation. The whey is brimming with beneficial LABs and it should be viewed as an inoculant that can speed up and nurture successful sweet sour mango chutney. For a recipe on how to make whey see here.
Place the chutney into a clean glass jar. Try and submerge, as best you can, the mango’s under the liquid.
Cover the jar and leave to rest on the kitchen counter or window sill for two to three days depending on the ambient temperature in the room. Rember to stir at least once a day to prevent mold forming on the top and to disperse the developing beneficial micro-organisms. After two to three (longer if its cold) days place the chutney in the fridge and enjoy. It should be consumed within two months though in our household it never lasts that long!
You can also replace the mango with papaya or any other tropical fruit such as pineapple or coconut.