One of the biggest food trends for 2018 is the fermentation of foods. From Asia’s top chefs refining age-old recipes of kimchi, miso and fermented tofu to artisan producers around the world making craft beers, all-natural sourdough bread, or the finest organic chocolate, to “food nerds” experimenting with bubbling jars of kombucha, fermented food is growing in fame and finding its way into the repertoires of the worlds top chefs in restaurants all over the planet. Yes my friends, sauerkraut is now sexy!
I think the growing interest in fermenting is tied to a bigger food movement that is concerned with the provenance of food … people want to know the story of what they eat. In the past, all food had a story – where the berries were picked, how, when, where and what was hunted. Over time, supermarkets have made us lose our connection with food. I believe people are now looking for more variety and individuality in their food as most mass-produced food is aimed at the lowest common denominator – it can’t be too spicy, too salty, too bitter, and too sweet. It has to please as many people as possible.
Another clear food trend this year is pickling and preserving. All these fads are nothing new off course. We have been fermenting, pickling and preserving foods for centuries.
I love to preserve food in the form of chutney’s. There’s a great deal of creative satisfaction to be had in seeing rows of shiny jars filled with good things stored away ready to enliven all kinds of meals. I’m a romantic and confess to wanting to keep alive the great tradition of preserving, so I will be making an array of interesting chutneys to liven up cold meats, pates and terrines over the next few weeks.
The word chutney derives from the Hindu word 'chatni' which was the term used to describe the relishes that accompany many Indian meals. Chutney was imported from India to Western Europe in the 17th century. European reproductions of chutney were often called "mangoed" fruits and vegetables, as one of the most common fruits used in the making of chutney is the mango.
Almost all chutney contains vinegar and perhaps onions to give it a corresponding sour flavour. The ingredients are mixed together and then simmered slowly. While chutney is primarily sweet and sour, there can also be many variations of spices, often giving it a hot and spicy flavour.
Sterilising the jars is one of the most crucial steps to successful preserving and you should never cut corners with this one. If you not do this properly you might find your preserved goods becomes mouldy and ferments sooner than expected. Preheat the oven to 120°C. Wash the jars in hot soapy water; do not dry them with a tea towel. Place the damp jars and lids on a clean baking tray; try not to touch the jars and lids on the insides. Place them in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes. Let the jars cool slightly before you add the cooked product. Never pour cold liquid in to hot glass jars, you will end up with broken glass. Take extra care when sterilising the jars, if they are overheated they might explode.
Fresh Mango chutney
1.5kl mangos (firm, but ripe)
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1tbsp ginger, finely chopped
2 small red onions, finely chopped
1 fresh green chilli, finely chopped
300ml white wine vinegar
100ml olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon chilli powder
2 teaspoons white mustard seeds
8 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon salt
Place all the spices in a grinder and pulse to a course powder.
Peel, stone and chop the mangos into large dice. Puree half the mangos with a blender. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the chopped onions, garlic, ginger and green chilli. Cook for 2-3 minutes to soften without colouring and add the spice mixture, vinegar & sugar. Cook for 2 minutes more and add the mango puree and the diced mango. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook over a gentle heat with the lid on for 35-40 minutes until the chutney has a thick, syrupy consistency. Divide the mixture among sterilised jars, seal and keep for up to 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator.