How to Make Chutney | Basic Chutney Recipe

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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.

Hang out with me while I make my fave Grilled Cheese and Chutney Sandwich!

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 safety

When I originally learned how to make and preserve chutney, we would sterilize the jars and lids in a 250-degree oven. Upon further research, some canning safety experts say that the oven method is unsafe. The same goes for the practice of reusing jar lids. It’s a common practice among many home canners (when, of course, the rubber seal is still in good condition and the jar seals properly after closing), but it is not recommended by safety experts.

While the practices of home canning enthusiasts vary around the world, I’ll defer to this article from Serious Eats which offers a handy guide for safe canning at home.

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.
4.07 from 15 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 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 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 until ready to enjoy!

Notes

  • 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!

42 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.

  15. 5 stars
    I used 746g (net weight) of mango for the “any other fruit or vegetable” and adjusted the other amounts by using the formula 746 divided by 1000 x the amounts given in the recipe. I used Granny Smith apples, granulated white sugar and ordinary white vinegar. I chopped everything that needed chopping (so not the raisins) in the food processor in a few batches. The spices I used were medium curry powder (constituting two-thirds of the total amount of spices), with smaller amounts of achar masala, mixed spice, cinnamon, ginger and cloves (all powdered) making up the remaining one-third. I cooked the chutney like I cook all my jams (my generic method): bring to a boil on high heat, and from there cook for 20 minutes on medium heat with tilted lid while stirring often, the last 6 or 7 minutes without lid. The chutney turned out well. I’m so grateful to have found a “template” with ratios of (categories of ) ingredients. Very versatile. Thank you so much.

  16. 5 stars
    My way of preparing jars: I boil water in the kettle and pour a little (between 15ml and 30ml) into clean glass jars. I then microwave the jars on high (my microwave’s output is 900W) for 1 minute. I swirl the hot liquid in each jar (careful – it’s very hot), empty it out into a ceramic bowl in which I’ve put the lids and turn the jar upside down on a ceramic plate for use within the next few minutes. I wipe the lids dry with paper towel just before screwing them on the jars. I’ve developed this method myself; not the conventional / textbook method, I know, but it has served me well. I have to add that I always make small batches of everything, seldom more than 1kg at a time, and usually around 500g (give or take a few grams), plus I work fast.

  17. 5 stars
    AMAZING! Made 6 bottles with 1kg mangoes, 1 tbspn ground ginger and 1 tbspn crushed chilies – thought they would last us a while – extended family got into the pantry and the 6 bottles were finished within a few days – we had chutney with practically every meal. Now everyone wants to know when I’m making more… 🙂 Thank you so much for this easy recipe, I’ve always wanted to make chutneys and jams and have always been scared, but this was a breeze… will likely never buy chutney again… Next batch I want to blend and see what it’s like as a smooth chutney… CAN’T WAIT!

    • Paula Hingley

      Fantastic! The spicy ginger mango combo sounds amazing! I don’t blame your extended family members for polishing it off!

  18. Don’t suppose you have a similar basic recipe for jam do you???

    • Paula Hingley

      I have my go-to plum jam, but as far as I know it only works for plums. I don’t have as much experience in the jam-making department. But it’s a great idea. A friend of mine has a small jam company. I wonder if she’d put together a similar formula for us! I’ll see what I can do 🙂 (Here’s the plum jam recipe: https://howtomakedinner.com/blog/plum-ginger-jam/)

  19. Paula,
    Thank you for this recipe. I’ve been looking for a chutney recipe with fruit, sugar and vinegar ratios that I can use for any fruits/vegetables as I make jams and chutneys for fundraising for charities. I try to use whatever I can buy at a reasonable prices when in season and get frustrated at having to find individual recipes to suit what I have bought. This will definitely streamline my preserving efforts.

    • Paula Hingley

      Ahh I’m so glad to hear this. That’s exactly my situation every summer too! The idea of buying specific amounts of fruit and veg for chutney just feels a bit unreasonable to me lol. I’m so happy this helps!

  20. PLEASE do not use gram as measures. Cups are SO much easier.

    • Paula Hingley

      I respect your opinion but I disagree! Especially when you’re dealing with large/difficult-to-measure things. If you weigh your fruit/veg first, you know exactly how much you need, before you even chop it. That being said, I appreciate that not everybody has a scale (yet). I’ll do my best to add various measuring options when possible!

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