I used to find the idea of making my own chutneys and relishes daunting. It seemed to me that the making of these jars of delicious alchemy were the domain of expert veterans who had been taught the skill from their own forebears, with secret recipes passed down through the generations.
While there's a little truth to this - using an old family recipe definitely adds a pinch of magic and nostalgia - it turns out that anyone can whip up a simple chutney armed with just a saucepan, some pantry staples and a can-do attitude.
Homemade chutney is such a good thing to have in the fridge. It instantly elevates a plain cheese sandwich to ploughman's lunch heights, adds liveliness to cold cuts, and does wonders when served on the side of a humble midweek dahl or curry.
My recipe calls for dried fruit, which means no matter the season, the ingredients are always available! Dried fruit works beautifully in chutneys - when cooked and softened it adds a deep, rich flavour.
I've used dried peaches, but feel free to use whatever dried fruit you fancy.
1 ½ cups dried fruit of choice, diced small
1 cup water
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
Add all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat & simmer slowly, uncovered - stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon for 20 minutes, or until mixture has thickened. You may need to add a touch more water, so keep watching it. When the consistency is chutney-like, it's done!
Ladle into hot sterilised jars & screw the lids on tightly straight away.
If you have the patience to wait 4-6 weeks, you'll be rewarded with chutney at its peak deliciousness. But it's still excellent when enjoyed straight away.
*Sterilising jars: We use these simple instructions from Cornersmith for sterilising our jars, which is an important step to prolong the shelf life of your chutney.
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This recipe works with any dried fruit. Some popular combinations are date and lime, apple and raisin, and fig and apricot.
Change the spices up. Add extra chilli for zing, add a tsp of mustard seeds or some kaffir lime.
Or try this Cherry Chutney which has an indigenous twist:
Simply use dried sour cherries, a half teaspoon of crushed pepperberries, and red wine vinegar in place of apple cider vinegar.
Chutney makes a great gift, which is why this recipe makes enough to have a jar in your own fridge plus a jar to give away.