|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|
Although chutney originated in India, it has become a popular condiment all over the world. Similar to a relish (the terms are often interchanged), chutney is a mixture of fruit or vegetable, along with sugar, vinegar, and seasonings, that is cooked down to create a somewhat chunky but thick consistency. It can be sweet or spicy and is wonderful served with cooked chicken, beef, and pork, as well as curried food.
This pear chutney is tangy and sweet and pairs beautifully with cheese, as well as spicy foods including (but not limited to) East Indian-style dishes. You can even turn it into an unusual spread for bagels or toast—puree a spoonful of pear chutney in a food processor with room temperature cream cheese and a dash of milk.
- 3 pounds pears (peeled, cored, and chopped)
- 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups raisins
- 1 lemon (seeded and finely chopped or slivered; discard the seeds but include the peel)
- 1/4 cup fresh ginger root (peeled and finely chopped)
- 1 clove garlic (peeled and finely chopped)
- 1 small hot chile pepper (finely chopped)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander seed
- Small pinch of ground cloves
Combine all of the ingredients in a large pot over medium-high heat.
Cook, stirring frequently until the pears soften to the point that they start to fall apart when you stir the chutney. If the chutney seems too liquid at that point, raise the heat to high and continue to cook it until a wooden spoon dragged across the bottom of the pot leaves a trail that doesn't fill in with chutney even after a couple of seconds.
Let cool, place in air-tight containers, and refrigerate or freeze. Or for longer storage, follow the canning process.
Tips and Variations
The flavors of the pear chutney will develop and become more balanced if you wait at least a week before eating it. Store pear chutney in the refrigerator for up to a month. You can freeze chutney for up to 6 months (it is still safe to eat after that, but the quality will suffer). For longer storage (up to 1 year) at room temperature, follow canning instructions.
If you aren't a fan of spicy food or want to make this pear chutney more mild to appeal to all palates in the family, you can cut down or eliminate the hot chile pepper. And if it is the height of autumn and you have a plethora of apples as well as pears, you can make your own homemade apple vinegar and use in this recipe; just be sure to test it first to make sure it is acidic enough to safely preserve the chutney.
It is best to use firm, under-ripe fruit when making a chutney. If you are looking to add another fruit to this recipe (or swap out the pear for something else), good options are peaches, apricots, green mangos, apples, and nectarines. Soft fruits like berries will end up cooking down so much they will lose their flavor and become more of a jam. Dried fruits are always a great addition to a chutney.
To preserve your pear chutney to enjoy for a longer period of time, canning is the way to go. Once you have all of your supplies ready, ladle the chutney into clean pint or 1/2-pint canning jars leaving 1/2-inch of headspace. (It is not necessary to sterilize the jars for this recipe because of the length of the canning time). Wipe the rims of the jars with a paper towel or a clean dishtowel. Screw on canning lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Other Chutney Recipes
If you have a plethora of fruit or would like to make a selection of chutneys to try, there are plenty of delicious recipes to choose from. Cranberry chutney with apples and oranges is a great alternative to cranberry sauce at the holiday table; for something completely unexpected try kiwifruit chutney made with bananas and onion. A comforting combination of ginger, dry mustard, and warming spices makes a sweet and savory spiced papaya and golden raisin chutney. And rhubarb chutney is the perfect relish to make when this reddish-pink vegetable is in season. Ideal if you have a bumper crop of tomatoes, green tomato chutney is a nice change from ketchup at your next cookout.