What Is the best Chutney for cheese?
“What is the best chutney for cheese?” is a question we hear regularly from customers – and there are several answers.
Firstly, it depends on the cheese; and secondly, it depends on your personal tastes.
Traditionally, mature cheddar, gouda and similar hard cheeses are served with strongly flavoured, dark, chutneys. The robust flavour of the cheese can stand up to the punchy, malty chutney. Some of our best-selling chutneys fall into this category – and this is where personal preference comes in. If you like a little spice, Strathbogie Sizzler Chutney provides some moderate chilli heat; if you’re a beer fan, Porter Chutney is made with organic dark beer and has a wonderful, deep molasses flavour; and if you prefer to keep things traditional, our aptly named Traditional Marrow Chutney has the dark, malty, classic chutney flavours of an old fashioned chutney-for-cheese. This one is based on my Mum’s original chutney recipe, the chutney of my childhood!
Soft or white cheeses
If you are serving a creamy, soft cheese such as brie or camembert or a white, crumbly Lancashire-style cheese, then you may well be looking for a slightly more subtle flavour from your chutney. A fruity chutney like Beetroot & Apple Chutney is sweet but not too spicy with a crunch of beetroot, or a mild Dill Chutney, which is lovely and light with a fresh herby flavour. Neither of these will overwhelm a more subtle cheese.
Sheep & Goat’s milk cheeses
Manchego and other hard sheep’s milk cheeses or goat’s milk cheeses are somewhere in between – they can handle a little spiciness, but a sweet chutney can also really help to bring out the lovely nutty flavours of the cheese. Again, personal preference comes in – coriander is one of those flavours which really divides people, so if you’re a fan of it, you will probably love the sweetness of Coriander Chutney with a sheep’s cheese. An alternative is our Blonde Bombshell Chutney, which combines chilli with garlic and ginger, but is not too spicy to serve with good cheeses.
Jams & jellies
Of course, if we’re talking about combining sweetness with cheese – which is a wonderful taste combination – then we shouldn’t forget the jellies, and even the jams. Intensely flavoured, slightly tart jellies such as Redcurrant Jelly, Rowan Jelly and Hedgerow Jelly all pair well with cheeses – particularly hard ones. The French have a tradition of serving jams with cheeses, from black cherry jam in the Pyrenees to mirabelle (cherry plum) jam in Alsace. We make Cherry Plum and Yellow Cherry Plum Jam from mirabelles, and their floral, aromatic flavour is unique and quite delicious. Sadly we don’t have a source of organic black cherries, but our Damson Jam shares some of the dark, stone-fruit flavours and makes a good partner for sheep’s milk cheese such as Ossau Iraty, and similar.
Blue cheeses are often served with sweet, fruity chutneys as a counterbalance to the strong, salty flavours of the cheese. Again, personal preference will decide whether you opt for Coriander or Blonde Bombshell Chutney or the fruitier Beetroot & Apple Chutney.
Cheese connoisseurs will probably advise you to steer away from spicy chutneys so that the flavours of the cheese aren’t overwhelmed by chilli – but personally I think a small amount of Hot Lemon Relish is a great partner for a strong, salty Stilton. The tang of the cheese with the spicy, citrus of the relish is really delicious.
in the end…
In the end, these are all suggestions rather than rules – a good starting point, but not intended to restrict anyone’s cheesy enjoyment. I love the flavour combination of Hot Pumpkin Chutney and melted cheese on a baked potato and we have a customer who swears by Gooseberry Jam and cheese…so if that’s what you enjoy, then don’t let a chutney rule-book stop you!