In this article we put two classic condiments head to head – it's chutney vs pickle!
Ever wondered what the difference is between the two? Let's delve deep into these two divine dishes to find out how they're made and what separates them, rounding off with some delicious recipes for a little homespun inspiration.
So, chutney or pickle? From textures to tastes, ingredients to methods, let's find out the difference between these two time-honored condiments.
What is chutney?
Chutney is a spicy condiment with Indian origins. It's made by mixing a combination of chopped vegetables and fruits with spices, herbs, vinegar and sugar, and sometimes lemon juice. It's then cooked in a large pot for up to an hour, to form a lusciously thick condiment with a spicy, sweet and sour taste.
Examples range from the common – such as mango chutney, apple chutney and plum chutney – to the more unusual – coconut chutney and quince chutney, for example.
What is pickle?
Pickle consists of whole fruits or vegetables that have been added to a liquid solution, usually sweetened vinegar or brine. Salt, sugar and other ingredients are then added to the vinegar or brine solution to create extra flavor.
Mixing fruits or vegetables with tangy liquids can be enhanced by adding several spices and herbs.
The pickling process is key when it comes to getting a longer shelf life. It also creates a wonderful combination of flavors.
Pickle is not to be confused with 'a pickle', which is what pickled cucumber is known as in the US, and referred to as a 'gherkin' in the UK.
What's the difference between chutney and pickle?
Although they are based on a similar concept, chutneys and pickles have quite a few key differences.
Size of pieces
Pickles are made using whole fruits and vegetables, while chutneys are made using small, chopped pieces of fruits or vegetables. While these vary in size, they are always chopped, rather than whole fruits, as is the case with pickles.
Chutneys tend to have a smooth consistency. This is due to the fact that the vegetable pieces and fruit pieces are chopped and cooked for a long period of time.
Chutneys are a mix of sweet, savory, sour and spicy. While pickles have a similar taste, chutneys tend to be a lot richer, as they are slow cooked.
Pickles are made by mixing lightly cooked vegetables with sweet vinegar with other ingredients as a way of preserving vegetables. Unlike pickle, chutney is cooked for a long period of time (usually 45 minutes to an hour).
Chutneys came from the Indian subcontinent around 500 BC, whereas pickle goes back even further – to around 2000 BC in the Tigris Valley.
Pickles are great when served on top of sandwiches or pizzas, or even added to a salad or on the side of your favorite meat dishes.
Chutneys make a classic pairing with a cheeseboard. They always pair perfectly with cold meats and are great when spread on cracker, rye or standard crusty bread.
Oh, and don't forget curries!
What are the similarities between the two?
Both chutney and pickle are ways of preserving perishable food. They also both contain fruits or vegetables, along with vinegar and flavor enhancers such as herbs, spices and flavored oil.
As they share similar ingredients, chutney and pickle have a similar sweet, spicy and sour taste.
So, is Branston pickle a chutney?
The makers of Branston pickle call it 'pickle', but the truth is it's closer to a chutney. That's because it has that lovely velvety texture of a chutney and is a lot richer than most pickles.
It might be most accurate to call it a 'pickle chutney!'
Is there a difference between mango pickle and mango chutney?
Yes! Mango chutney is made from ripe or overripe mangoes, while mango pickle is made from underripe hard green mango.
Delicious pickle recipes
Want to try your hand at making your own pickle? Try these recipes:
- Pickled cucumber – cucumber pickle is a gloriously simple, wonderfully tasty recipe that makes an amazing snack
- Courgette pickle – chili, mustard, turmeric, celery salt and other delicious ingredients are key to making this incredible pickle recipe
- Pickled daikon – this Japanese vegetable is an excellent pickling ingredient
Amazing chutney recipes
Did I mention that I'm a homemade chutney fanatic? It explains why I've got a whole host of incredible chutney recipes for you to get inspired by:
- Mrs Balls chutney – a South African favorite, this chutney is mild, fruity and perfect when paired with cold meats
- Damson chutney – a fantastically rich, spicy and utterly delicious recipe that's too good to miss
- Courgette chutney – simple, versatile, tangy and subtly spiced, this is a great chutney
- Quince chutney – looking for something a little different? This quince chutney recipe is delicious. It's also very easy, ideal for beginner chutney makers
- Marrow chutney – an extremely moreish vegetable chutney with a nice and spicy kick