How to Make Chutney | Basic Chutney Recipe

My earliest memories of chutney were of my grandma putting a mysterious mason jar of weird stuff full of raisins on the dinner table. I never knew what to do with it so I didn’t give it the time of day.

As an adult I spent a bit of time cooking and eating in the UK, where chutney is an absolute staple.

No cheese plate is complete without something pickled, or some type of sweet savoury spiced preserve.

At the farm shop where I worked, we made giant batches of chutney every week. It was the easiest way to deal with all the fruit and veg that needed to be used up.

We used apples, pears, peppers, eggplant, even bananas. If it was looking sad, it went into the chutney pot. This basic chutney recipe adapted to anything we threw at it. It’s truly amazing.

I love chutney now.

Every fall I make a big batch with whatever fruit I can find falling off the trees, and I give jars of it to my friends. I don’t even mind if they just stare at it in their cupboard all year. It’s a comfort to me just knowing it’s kicking around.

How to make chutney – a few guidelines

  1. Always include onions, apples and raisins (or some kind of dried fruit).
  2. Don’t go too crazy on the spices
  3. Don’t burn it.

What goes well with chutney?

Chutney is such a nice compliment to so many savoury foods. If it’s salty or spicy, consider pairing it with some homemade chutney.

More of a formula than a recipe

The basic chutney recipe I’ve drafted up here is more of a formula than a recipe, and it will get you pretty far in your chutney-making endeavours.

Get creative in choosing which fruit and veg you use, as well as which types of sugar, vinegar and spices you want.

The sugar can be white or brown, and you can use almost any vinegar under the sun. I would probably steer clear of Balsamic, but apple cider, malt, red wine are all contenders. I’d stick with something on the cheap side though because you’re using a lot of it and the flavour will mostly get lost in the shuffle.

Where spices are concerned I tend to always use some bay leaves and black peppercorns in a cheesecloth sack. I also include various combos of powders like ginger, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, cayenne, you name it.

The next step is simple. Throw everything into a pot and cook slowly for an hour and a half to two hours. This formula can be doubled or tripled with no problem. Keep in mind that it might take longer to cook depending on the size of your pot.

A few words on canning methods

I always thought putting food in jars was a big production.

Wrangling a gigantic canning pot, boiling tons of water, buying those special jar lifters and brand new mason jar lids… It sounds like a lot of fuss.

But chutney canning is easier than your average canning process. Recycled jars with the thin rubbery layer on the lid form perfectly good seals time and time again. Not only that, you don’t need a big pot of boiling water to sterilize them.

To sterilize my recycled jars, I prefer to bake them and their lids in a 250-degree Fahrenheit oven for 15-20 minutes.

This sterilizes the jars and softens the seal so they will safely store your chutney for months in the cupboard.

I have yet to attempt this sterilizing method for preserving other foods, but the massive amount of sugar and vinegar in chutney makes it pretty shelf-stable. I’ve opened jars after well over a year using this technique and the contents have been perfectly good every time.

That’s it for today’s chutney chat. I hope you try out this method and let me know how it goes! Comment below or tag me on Instagram @howtomakedinner.

Looking for more ways to use up TONS of fruit?

  • Try my super moist and incredibly delicious Compost Cake. (I call it that because you can use overripe fruit that’s almost fit for the compost.) 😅
Almond Parmesan crackers with chutney on a wooden serving board

Basic Chutney Recipe

This basic chutney recipe is more of a formula than a recipe. There is tons of flexibility in the different fruit and veg you use, as well as in the different types of sugar, vinegar and spices you decide to go with.
4.34 from 6 votes
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 55 mins
Course Sauces & Condiments
Servings 2 litres

Ingredients
  

  • 500 grams apples
  • 500 grams onions
  • 1000 grams any other fruit or vegetable which could be more apples and onions
  • 160 grams raisins or other dried fruit
  • 350 grams vinegar I like using cider or malt
  • 350 grams white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons spices

Instructions
 

  • Peel and core the apples
  • Peel the onions and prepare the other fruit and veg you are using.
  • Chop all fruit and veg in a food processor, or by hand, depending on your level of patience.
  • Transfer the fruit and veg to a large pot, add the vinegar, sugar, and spices.
  • Stir well with a wooden spoon, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring regularly, until the mixture reaches a jam-like consistency—approximately 90 minutes.
  • When the chutney mixture is almost ready, place your clean jars and lids into an oven-safe dish or baking tray, and heat them in a 250F oven for 15-20 minutes to sterilize them.
  • When your chutney has thickened and your jars/lids are sterilized, bring everything over to a cleared space in your kitchen to start jarring.
  • Using a clean stainless steel ladle or serving spoon, carefully spoon the hot chutney into the jars almost to the top—making sure to keep the rims of the jars clean. If any chutney drips onto the jar rim, simply wipe it clean with a dry tea towel. A stainless steel jarring funnel is helpful here, but if you don’t have one, you just need to be extra cautious.
  • Once the jars are filled, screw the lids on tightly. You should start to hear them pop as they seal naturally over the course of an hour or so.
  • Store in a cool dark place for what seems like forever!

Notes

  • You can absolutely use recycled jars for this. The rubbery seal will soften up and re-seal no problem, as long as it is still intact. Just be sure to use clean, sanitized jars, and make sure the lid/seal area is clear of any chutney debris. Keep a clean cloth close by to help with cleaning as you go.
  • The best way to test if your chutney has cooked down enough is to put a little spoonful on a plate in the fridge and let it chill for 5 minutes or so. If the liquid runs across the plate, it needs more cooking. If the liquid is quite thick and set, the chutney is done.
  • The total volume of chutney you end up with will depend greatly on which fruit and veg you use. If you are using a lot of yellow plums, for example, which are very liquidy, the chutney will have to reduce a lot more—yielding less total chutney in the end. By contrast, if you use mostly carrots or beets, which contain less water, you will yield more chutney in the end.
  • Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

    30 Comments

    1. Glenda Hingley

      Paula’s Great Grandmother Dorothy used to make chutney. It always featured plenty of brown spices so it ended up tasting like chunky HP sauce. Delicious!

      There was a lot of experimentation – it seems that off-book, ad lib cooking runs in the family. The one real error I can remember was when she put cashews in the chutney. It was meant to make it very luxurious and "fancy" but the cashews absorbed all the (mild) heat and some flavour from the cinnamon, ginger, etc. It made for a bit of a shock when you bit into a cashew and the other bites really bland. Not her best ever, but I know I finished mine up almost as quickly as the other versions.

      Hoping a jar of this lands in my fridge soon!

      xo Mom

      • Paula Hingley

        Thanks ma! You’ll be getting one for sure. xo

      • Hi. What kind of spices do you put in this recipe?

        • Paula Hingley

          Hi! The great thing about this approach is that you can really use any combination of spices you like. I tend to use pickling spice when I don’t feel like thinking about it too much 🙂 But any combination of allspice, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, mustard, bay leaves, work really well.

    2. This basic chutney recipe was just what I needed, but there is no sugar listed in the ingredients!! Am I missing something?

      • Paula Hingley

        whoa Val thank you so much for bringing this to my attention! I just moved the site over from Squarespace and it looks like the sugar got lost in the move! So sorry about that. I hope this works well for you!

    3. Pingback: 10 Convenience Foods To Improve Your Cooking | How To Make Dinner

    4. Hi Paula! Thanks for this basic chutney formula. I’ve been searching for one since I joined the FoodSaving movement. Just one clarification please. In your guidelines you say, “Always include onions, apples and raisins” but you do not include onions in the recipe/formula. What proportion to fruit/veg do you recommend please?

      • Paula Hingley

        Hi Janet! Sorry about that – I had the onion volume included in the “any fruit and veg” part, but realize now that that is pretty unclear! Especially since I had the apples listed as their own ingredient. I’ve updated it now, hope that helps!

    5. I’m probably just being thick, but I’m used to hot water canning so please excuse my caution. Are you heating the jars and lids in a 250 Fahrenheit or 250 Celsius oven?

      Thank you!

      • Paula Hingley

        Ahh, great point. It’s 250 Fahrenheit! I’ll add it in for clarification. Thanks for catching that 🙂

    6. Why white sugar? Wouldn’t soft brown be better?

      • Paula Hingley

        I’ve always used white sugar in this recipe but I don’t see why brown sugar wouldn’t work just as well. It will definitely change the flavour, but not necessarily make it better or worse in my opinion. The spices and fruit/veg tend to dominate in the flavour department here!

    7. Curious about what size the jars are, roughly, to make 12 jars. Thanks!

      • Paula Hingley

        Hi Wendy! I actually just updated the yield to read as “2 litres” because jars vary so much in size. I was using cute little gift-size jars to yield 12, but I’ve started using larger 500ml jars now and I tend to get only 4 of them filled up. Thanks for asking – I was overdue for clarifying that!

    8. My husband and I have been making chutney for years – always different each year from what we grow or forage! This article was so useful however – and using your guidance we have just made a Green Tomato and Apple Chutney which we have called “Green Dragon” – really delicious! Your
      article is especially helpful as it allows one to adapt to the various different produce that come our
      way! Thank you and I look forward to receiving your emails.

    9. Can you sterilize your jars and lid via the dishwasher?

    10. Emma Collins

      Thank you for this recipe, I was looking for a base recipe that I could adapt and this definitely fits the bill ! I currently have a pot on the stove with apples, onions, a couple of small courgettes and some Crown Prince squash. I have added a small green chilli, ginger, cinnamon and allspice. I have used malt vinegar and Demerara sugar. I am looking forward to the results.

      • Paula Hingley

        Awesome! That’s exactly what I was going for 🙂 It’s so common to have a wide range of random fruit and veg to work with, so sticking to exact amounts of each thing is kind of unrealistic in my opinion. I hope it works out great and you love it!

    11. Many thanks for this great base recipe. As
      a newby to Chutney making I found it extremely helpful in all departments. Just finished a pan using green tomatoes, courgettes, and green and red peppers out of my poly tunnel as my other veg’s and a combo of spices as suggested.

    12. I’ve just made this chutney. It looks delicious. How long do I need to store the chutney before we can use it?

      • Paula Hingley

        Hi! I am impatient and start eating it right away, but it definitely improves in flavour after about a month.

    13. Did you say you can re-use sealing lids? That’s how I read it.

      When you use the oven to seal jars (I love that idea!) do you put the jars in any water, or just use dry heat? Thank you!

    14. Just putting my chutney on the stovetop and realized I may have added vinegar twice! (I have ADHD 😬, and the mixture is very liquidy). Can I just wait and see how it tastes, or should I drain some liquid?

      Thanks in advance.

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