Ask the experts: Chutneys and pickles

Q: "Are there any chutneys and pickles better than others? I would like to use these occasionally but am not sure whether they are any good for me."


A: Nutritionist Bronwen King responds:

"Essentially, chutneys, relishes and pickles are preserves made from vegetables and /or fruit, vinegar and sugar. While the fruit, vegetables, spices added and ingredients may vary, chutneys depend on a certain level of vinegar, sugar (and salt) to enable them to be kept at room temperature without going off.

It is because of their sugar content that restraint around them is frequently advised, but this does not mean you can't use and enjoy them! Rather than thinking of them as something you can only use occasionally, think about them as you would jam, peanut butter or honey; something you can use daily but in small quantities with other healthy foods. A thin spread of chutney, particularly if you have it instead of butter, is a delicious start to a sandwich, and something you should not worry about.

As to some varieties being better than others, since they are all relatively high in sugar, I would make my decision based on flavour and whether it complements the food you are serving it with, rather than any nutritional criteria."

First published: Mar 2009

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