Looking for something new, exciting and festive for your family’s Thanksgiving dinner? How about chutney? A spiced fruit condiment whose origin food historians have traced back to 500 BC in India, chutneys were an early form of food preservation adopted by the Romans.
Chutneys later traveled to the British Empire, where the Brits added vinegar to the mix to increase the shelf life. The most famous British chutney is Major Grey’s Chutney, considered to be the “gold standard.” Reputedly created in the 19th century by Major Grey who lived in British India, this chutney’s primary ingredients are mango, raisins, vinegar, lime juice, onion, and tamarind (occasionally), sweetening, and spices.
In my home kitchen, chutneys are a creative and tasty method to conserve the bounty of autumn fruit like cranberries, apples, wild blueberries and pears. Sweet, spicy or pungent, chutneys turn plainly simply foods like roast turkey, chicken, pork, even tofu into a memorable meal. Relatively easy to prepare, supermarket friendly with not-hard-to-find ingredients, chutneys are best made several days in advance so the flavors have time to mingle and mellow.
Although chutneys had not yet arrived at the New World in 1621 for the first Thanksgiving feast, (neither had forks), wild blueberries and cranberries were in abundance. The traditional turkey was also not on the original menu that included venison, lobster, duck, clams, pumpkin and squash.
The native cranberry and wild blueberry are the foundation for this Wild Blueberry Cranberry Chutney recipe, developed by the food service workers of the Newport, Vermont school system. In the Newport city schools, this chutney is served up on a turkey sandwich and as a side for chicken fingers.
We enjoy Wild Blueberry Cranberry Chutney as part of a meat and cheese tray, mixed with chicken salad for a tangy flavor, pureed in a salad dressing, part of a grilled cheese sandwich, over warm brie cheese, as a dipping sauce for egg rolls, and as a glaze for roasted squash.
Forget that jellied cranberry sauce in a can. This is the year to go wild! Make up a batch of Wild Blueberry Cranberry Chutney several days in advance and enjoy two native Maine foods.