Making onion chutney is one of my favorite activities at home. Not only is it extra rewarding when you have the final product, but it is also a great way to save your onions before they go bad. Whether you want to make this as part of your spread for a dinner party, or to give away to friends and family, onion chutney is never a bad idea.
What is onion chutney?
A chutney is a preserve, and you can find many chutney recipes on this website. When you make chutney, you combine vinegar and sugar together to create not only the preserve but also for flavor. In most cases, chutneys tend to be savory, but they may be made with a mix of fruits and vegetables.
Since chutneys are of Indian origin, it means they are also made with spices and sometimes chili peppers. This savory condiment is often served with naan, flatbread, toast, and as a topping.
Here are 8 tips for making the best onion chutney
Tip #1: Red onions go well in onion chutney
While you can use yellow onions if need be, the red kind tend to work better when it comes to making chutney. Red onions are milder and slightly sweeter, so they work well in caramelized onion chutney, or any other type of onion preserve.
Tip #2: You will need a lot of onions
While 3lb of onions seems like a lot, the truth is, the onions shrink considerably when you make chutney. The more onions you use, the better, especially because some may have bruises or damage, and you may need to throw them out.
Tip #3: Begin by peeling and slicing your onions
This is maybe the most time-consuming and hardest part of the process for making onion chutney. You should peel all the skin carefully, looking for bruised parts that you need to throw out.
The best and fastest way to slice this many onions is to use a food processor slicer, but otherwise, you can always do it by hand. If possible, try to keep all the slices uniform, or at least to a similar thickness.
Tip #4: Make it spicy or not
If you want your caramelized onion chutney to have a kick to it, the best choice is to use chili peppers. You will likely want to remove the seeds, as it changes the chili from being hot, to adding warmth. If you like a bit of spice here and there, you can also leave the seeds, but consider that they may also add bitterness later on.
Tip #5: Use brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and red wine vinegar
The combination of these three flavors is perfect any time you want to make onion chutney. You may find recipes out there that do not add the balsamic vinegar, but I like to use it, along with the red wine vinegar, because it adds sweeter notes and an oaky aftertaste. Once you add these three ingredients, you will need to mix things often. Otherwise, you could end up with burnt pieces at the bottom.
Tip #6: The whole process will take about 2 hours
I make my onion chutney in about two hours, because I like to slow-cook the onions. You can, however, prepare this chutney in about one hour. Two key parts of the cooking process are that you use a deep enough pot and that you stir frequently to prevent scorching.
If you want to prepare everything faster, increase the heat, but remember that you still need your onions to soften and become translucent before you can add the brown sugar and vinegar.
Your final chutney will have to be thick and have a dark caramel color. If it does not, you need to continue to cook until you reach the right consistency.
Tip #7: If stored properly, your onion chutney can last for up to a year
Before you store your chutney, make sure your jars are sterilized. I always process my jars before storage, which is a safety measure I recommend everyone to practice.
After you are done cooking, store the chutney in the jars, process them for at least 10 minutes, or more depending on where you live. Always allow your jars to cool down for at least 12 hours, and then store them safely in a dark and cool place.
Once you open your chutney, keep it in the refrigerator, and eat it within a week to ten days at most.
I suggest you check on your stored chutney every once in a while, particularly to make sure it still looks and smells right.
Tip #8: Enjoy your chutney with many foods
If you are not sure what to serve your onion chutney with, try a French baguette, toasted brie, crackers, or on top of a curry dish. When in doubt, always serve your onion chutney on a charcuterie board for a sweet and sour addition.