Sunday, 5 October 2014

Green Bean & Caramelised Onion Chutney

It's October and we are still picking beans! I have never known a year like it. Usually the beans in our garden have long gone by mid-August, but this year, there seems to be a never ending supply....... and they are still as succulent as they were in June..........

I'm not complaining, believe me...... We love beans. But we have been eating them almost every day for about four months and the freezer is full with them too. With such a glut, I have had to find new ways to use them....... Bring on the chutney!

Years ago, I was given a jar of green bean chutney which was so delicious, I have been trying to find the recipe ever since. I had a good memory for what it looked and tasted like, so have been on an internet search to track it down. The fact that years ago, was before the existence of the internet seemed irrelevant....... I knew it would have found its way into cyberspace.

I had bookmarked a couple of recipes which I thought would taste like I remembered. The most likely suspect was a Delia Smith recipe, which seemed logical given the 'era' that I had eaten it. I am not sure whether it should be labelled a pickle or a chutney? Is there a critical difference? But as I recall it being called a chutney when given to me years ago, I am sticking with that in the interests of nostalgia.

I have changed the recipe a bit......... It lists using runner beans (I only had French); I've thrown in a bit of chilli; used a combination of white and red onions which I have also caramelised slightly; taken out the addition of mustard; and substituted the malt vinegar for a combination of cider vinegar and white wine vinegar on account of wanting to avoid any potential gluten issue that might be present with malt vinegar. Actually, the jury still seems to be out on whether it is safe to eat malt vinegar if you need to avoid gluten. Coeliac UK suggests it is fine and that the barley gluten content is made safe by the fermentation process. In the US, they suggest malt vinegar is not safe. I found this article here to have some particularly helpful discussion on the subject. The Turmeric in the chutney adds a lovely aromatic edge and also enriches the colour.

So actually........ I guess I've pretty much massacred the original recipe. It does however, taste like I remember, only better. It is like a jar of sweet and sour green beans and makes a perfect accompaniment to cheese and crackers. But don't expect to eat just a small spoonful. This is the kind of 'chutney' that you want a big pile of, because the beans are still in long juicy lengths and because it is very very moreish. I almost eat it as a side vegetable!

The chutney is best after being allowed to mature in the jars for a month before eating. I actually made this batch a while back. It is however, disappearing quick, and I may just have to snaffle some of the frozen beans from the garden for another batch.

I am sharing this delicious chutney with a handful of challenges this month :

Extra Veg being hosted by Emily at A Mummy Too (on behalf of Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy), which urges us to find ways of eating an extra portion of vegetables. The amount of bean chutney I eat in one sitting qualifies it for a goodly portion.

October's Spice Trail, with Vanesther at Bangers & Mash. This month's theme is preserves and pickles. There's plenty of turmeric in here, which adds both flavour and colour and alongside the fresh chilli, brings the chutney extra vibrancy.

Bookmarked, guest hosted this month by Feeding Boys & a Firefighter on behalf of Jac at Tinned Tomatoes. Ok...... it's a bit of a leap, but this one's been bookmarked in my head for years...... it just took a while to track it down (and then de-glutenise and modernise it)!

Green Bean & Caramelised Onion Chutney (makes about 6 jars)


1 kg french or runner beans - sliced and cut in half
2 medium red onions 
2 medium white onions
1 to 2 red chillies (to taste) - deseeded and finely chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
350 ml cider vinegar
300 ml white wine vinegar (or malt vinegar if you can eat gluten)
40g cornflour
1 tablespoon turmeric
250g soft brown sugar
350g demerara sugar
2 teaspoons fine sea salt


  1. Wash and prepare about 6 jars ready for filling, ensuring they are sterile. I sterilised mine by putting the jars and lids on a baking tray, placing in the oven cold and heating to 150 C/300 F/Gas 2 whilst I made the chutney. The jars need to be heated at this temperature for about 20 minutes.
  2. Part-cook the beans by boiling in water for about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and either plunge into cold water to stop the cooking process, or pour into a colander and run cold water over them.
  3. Finely slice the onions, place in a large saucepan and gently fry on a low heat in the olive oil with the chilli until caramelised and sticky (about 20 minutes).
  4. Add the drained beans and cider vinegar and bring to a simmer.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix the cornflour with the turmeric and a little of the white wine vinegar to make a smooth paste. Add to the pan and stir thoroughly. 
  6. Add the sugars and salt and stir until dissolved.
  7. Add the rest of the vinegar and simmer for 20 minutes.
  8. Spoon hot into the sterilised jars (also hot) and place the lids on immediately. 
  9. Allow to cool, label and store in a dark place for about a month before eating.
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  1. What an interesting chutney. I can imagine it going well with cheese. My grandmother has had a great glut of beans this year too, shes been giving them away to family all summer. Yum. I personally don't trust malt vinegar, or barley malt extract. If it originally contained gluten I don't eat it. I do as you did and use cider or wine vinegar, just as good!

    1. Thanks Katie. It goes deliciously with cheese, especially the soft, goats cheeses! Barley malt extract is a definite no no I agree and there are so many amazing vinegars around these days, that it is really easy to substitute the malt whatever the evidence of gluten presence! Better safe than sorry!

  2. I have still lots to learn about making chutneys. I have only discovered them since living in the UK and I have never made one before.. but I like them! I just buy the ready made stuff. Not great.
    I love your one here with green beans. What a lovely caramelized flavour! Ciao!

    1. I am a big chutney fan Alida! They can bring some really great flavours, especially when paired with cheese and cold meats. I particularly love ones with caramelised onions!

  3. What a delicious looking chutney, Kate - a great way to use up those beans in the garden. We've had an amazing year from our veg patch too! A perfect recipe for this month's Spice Trail too - thank for linking up :)

  4. I adore Green Bean Chutney Kate, it's an old fave that my mum would always make after a bumper harvest from dad's allotment. I made a version a few years back and blogged it, and it's one of those blog posts that keeps getting lots of love. Thanks so much for hooking up with us on this month's Bookmarked Recipes.

    1. You're welcome Katie. It's a great way to use up those beans!

  5. Fantastic chutney! I've had a few disasters when straying away from the standard recipes - but I must give them another go.

    Thanks for sending to #ExtraVeg

    1. Thanks Helen. If I can make his one, anyone can. Definitely worth a try!


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