Most expecting moms crave a sour, sweet, or tangy side dish at some point in their pregnancy. Chutney definitely hits the spot – but is it safe?
Chutneys are delicious and safe condiments to eat when pregnant, provided they have the right acidity and are cooked and canned or jarred the proper way. This not only makes them safe but also allows for longer shelf life.
What type of chutney can I have while pregnant? Can I eat a raw/marinated option? Can I make my own at home? Answers to these questions and more, below!
Is It Safe to Eat Chutney While Pregnant?
If you’re craving chutney, the good news is that it is safe for pregnant women. Natural fruit acid, vinegar, heat treatment, proper storage, and the right canning practices are what makes it safe to consume.
There are multiple kinds of chutneys but all of them are made from fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, sugar, and vinegar. Like relish, it is served with meat and sandwiches (Source: Oregon State University Extension Service).
In traditional chutney, nuts are included. Today, dried fruits are preferred over nuts. Chutney can be either smooth or chunky. It can also be mild or hot (source: PennState Extension).
The vinegar added to the ingredients helps prevent the growth and proliferation of the majority of harmful bacteria, yeasts, and molds. The mixture is then cooked which lowers the water content and kills the pathogenic microbes further.
Most commercially produced and store-bought chutneys are safe during pregnancy. Some companies use vacuum sealing while others don’t. However, all of them use heated cans/jars including lids to kill potential pathogens.
Others also use atmospheric steam canning, boiling, or pressure process to completely rid the product of any dangerous pathogens (source: PennState Extension).
Although a chutney marinated in vinegar may already be safe due to the low pH which prevents the growth of pathogens, we still recommend choosing one that has been boiled or sterilized. We will further explain this below.
Homemade vs Store-Bought Chutney in Pregnancy
Store-bought chutney is usually safe, if it’s been commercially made. These are the types of chutney you see for sale on shelves (not in the fridge). If you’re buying from a farmer’s market or other artisan supplier, you might want to check how it’s been made.
You can also make your own chutney at home! But, you will need to thoroughly follow handling, heating, canning, and storage practices when pregnant.
There are many things to be mindful of when making chutney at home to ensure its safety for consumption.
Since chutney is canned, the biggest concern as far as a potential pathogen is Clostridium botulinum. It can survive, grow and produce toxins in:
- Moist surfaces
- Low acid environments
- Temperatures that range between 40 °F to 120 °F (0 °C to 48.89 °C)
In general, here are the recommendations by the USDA and Oregon State University Extension Service to guarantee safe and top-quality canned chutney:
When cooking at home, select ingredients that are fresh, free of discolorations, bruises, or any signs of damage. If there are damaged areas, trim those parts off.
Choose your fruits to be moderately unripe and cut them into equal sizes.
Since the chutney should not be above 4.6pH, a white distilled vinegar with 5% (50 grain) acidity is recommended. Never reduce the amount of vinegar stated in a recipe.
Chutney is considered acidic due to the added vinegar. For this reason, a boiling water canner or pressure canner can be used.
Jars should be clean and hot. The idea is that while the mixture is still hot after cooking in the pan or pot, the jar should be too. There should also be little to no moisture before the chutney is added to the jar.
Note that as your altitude increases, the boiling temperature of water decreases. The lower the boiling temperature is, the less efficient it is at killing bacteria.
This means that if you live at higher altitudes, you will need to extend the boiling time or canner pressure to account for the lower boiling temperature.
At sea level, the boiling temperature is 120 °F (100 °C). The canning pressure should not exceed 15 PSI. This ensures that pathogenic microbes are killed.
The following are not recommended for making chutney at home:
- Open-kettle canning
- Putting filled jars in conventional ovens
- Using the dishwasher
- Steam canners
- Canning powders
- Jars with wire bails
- Caps made with glass, zinc-porcelain, zinc with flat rubber rings
For the complete guide of recommendations, check out these sources below. If you’ve never made chutney before, it might be best to wait until after your baby is born, since this requires some practice to get it right – and avoid foodborne illness during pregnancy.
Types of Chutney
As mentioned, there are several types of chutney. Some of these are coconut chutney, mango chutney, onion, mint or coriander chutney, and more!
If you do a quick search, you’ll find out that most coconut chutneys are not acidic and are not boiled or cooked in any way but, instead, only tampered (oil added on top).
Therefore, check coconut chutneys to make sure they’ve been cooked before eating them when pregnant.
Mango chutney is also often uncooked. We recommend buying options that have been boiled in a water bath or processed by pressure canning. Many commercially-produced mango chutneys are safe during pregnancy, because they’ve been heat-treated or sterilized.
Onion chutney is a popular option. It may come with or without added vinegar and is often cooked. Still, we recommend buying the jarred type during pregnancy.
Chutneys are sweet, sour, tangy, and delicious condiments to add to any dish. They are safest if cooked and canned or jarred with the safety precautions described in this article. Hopefully, this article helps with your chutney pregnancy cravings and confidence in eating it safely!
|This article has been reviewed and approved for publication in line with our editorial policy.|