A Universal Chutney Recipe

Universal Chutney Recipe 

Chutney is a great way to use up large quantities of fruit. If you have a fruit tree in your yard, I’m sure there is a time of the year when you simply have had too much of those plums or pears. Chutney is your solution. Chutney is also the solution when your mate comes back from the fruit stand with that 20 pound box of apples “on sale”. 

Chutney, in this respect, is a highly spiced fruit relish. In Indian cuisine, chutneys can be fresh, canned, or pickled, but this recipe is for English type chutney – savory, tart and a little spicy.  (Fresh Indian Chutney – put an apple, an orange, 2 jalapenos, and a bunch of mint in the processor, whiz until done). There are more chutney recipes than one can count, and there never seems to be one that exactly fits the fruit you have on hand. I’ve adapted this from Canning Across America and a little other research. 

Most chutneys are a great accompaniment to curries, roast meats or poultry, fish, or fried rice. I also like them on my turkey sandwich, mixed into a salad dressing, or in a chicken or egg salad. 


4 quarts chopped fresh fruit. Any fruit will do – stone fruit, apples, pears, or a mixture. You could use berries, or tropical fruit – mangos or pineapple would be good.  I wouldn’t use citrus. 

2 and ½ cups  vinegar. I use cider, but white wine vinegar works. 

2 and ½ cups of sugar. I use organic cane sugar, but white sugar or a mix of white and brown sugar would work. 

1 big red onion, chopped. I like the color, but white or yellow onion will work. 

2 cups dried fruit. You pick. I like color contrast – so I use dried cherries or cranberries.. But you could use figs (chopped roughly), apricots, raisins, currents, etc. 

3 big cloves garlic. Put them through a garlic press, or rub on a microplane. If you have professional chef knife skills, “finely mince.” 

1 TB salt. Kosher is great. 

1 TB hot red chili flakes. (Make sure they’re fresh, if you use the jar that’s been in your cabinet for years for pizza, you won’t get much zing. Spices are the best argument for bulk food buying that I’ve found.)

1 TB ground ginger. (See above parenthesis). 

Other spice combinations are good – If you’ve found a recipe that appeals, you could add or substitute those spices. The River Cottage cookbook has a list of chutney ideas with different spice combinations. Ones to try include cardamom, coriander, black pepper, fresh ginger, galangal, cinnamon, clove, star-anise and so on. 


1. Rinse the fruit, turn on a good radio show, peel (if desired) and chop it. You are going to want chunks in the final product, so chop accordingly. Four quarts is a lot. 

2. Throw it all into your biggest, heaviest pot, bring it to a boil, mix it together. Let it boil hard for a few minutes, then turn to a simmer. 

3. Simmer, stirring regularly. You should stir it more often towards the end making sure it doesn’t stick on the bottom. It’s done when thick. Depending on the moisture content of the fruit, it may take 20 minutes to an hour to get to the right thickness. The chutney should mound slightly on the spoon and you may be able to pull your mixing spoon across and see the bottom of the pan. 

4. Prepare your canning jars and lids. Fill the jars (I use ½ pint jars) to within ¼ inch of the top, wipe the edges and tops, put the lids on finger tight. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. 

5. Cool, label and eat.

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