Fermented Fruit Chutney

I am very excited about this recipe because for this batch of chutney, I used a starter other than whey—my ginger bug. Why had I not thought to do this before? It works so well! As a self-deprecating and modest Canadian, I hate to toot my own horn, but beep beep. 

Which reminds me of a joke a good friend told me on Canada Day Saturday:

How do you get 100 drunk and rowdy Canadians out of a swimming pool?

You say, “Please get out of the pool.”

Although both Sally Fallon and Sandor Katz list fresh whey as a starter for chutney in their books, people tend to freak out when I post that online. Some fermentos have told me you should never mix whey with vegetables. And vegans need a replacement for it. So… on the weekend, after bottling some naturally fermented soda made with my strained ginger bug, I had a little over a quarter cup of liquid left over and wondered what on earth to do with it—I can and should drink only so much soda, no matter how natural. Then as I pondered the whey issue in this chutney, it dawned on me—PUT THE GINGER BUG IN IT! A good ginger bug teems with live cultures, tastes sweet and gingery and so goes well with chutney. It’s a natural fit.

We first started making cooked chutney when we went plastic-free and needed a cranberry sauce replacement for thanksgiving dinner (cranberries almost always come packaged in plastic bags). Here’s the delicious pear chutney recipe my daughter MK came up with. (For that recipe, if you have excess kombucha vinegar, you could use it in place of the cider vinegar.)

One of the many things I love about fermentation is that you don’t cook the food. Microbes cook it for you. So aside from all the chopping, this fermented chutney requires minimal effort and zero energy.

peach mango chutney
Peach mango chutney, ready to devour after a mere 48 hours

You say fruit salsa, I say chutney

This chutney recipe follows the same method as my fermented salsa recipe—chop all the produce, stuff it into clean jars and wait. Because it’s summer (and my daughter brought home a mango I needed to use up), I used peaches and mango for this post.

You can adapt this recipe in infinite ways. I have some cherries in the freezer I may use with the peaches from my tree when they have ripened. In the fall, you could make this with pears or apples. Adjust the spices as desired. Replace the lemon juice with lime juice. Add fresh cilantro (it would have been so good in this batch!). Bell peppers out of season? Omit them.

Since starting this blog, I now regard every scrap of food as a resource and so didn’t seed the jalapeño (I tossed in lemon zest also to get every tasty bit out of the lemon). But because I didn’t seed the jalapeño, this chutney is VERY HOT! If you don’t want it hot, simply omit the heat. It tastes delicious with or without jalapeños.

Chutney goes well not only with Indian dishes like dal and chana masala but also with many other foods. You can serve it on the side of all sorts of savory dishes—pot pie, empanadas, bean dishes, nut loaf—or stir it into plain yogurt for a snack. 

fruit chutney ingredients
Fruit chutney ingredients, with strained pale yellow ginger bug on the right


  • 4 cups chopped mixed fruit
  • 1 cup chopped onion (preferably red)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup ginger bug
  • 2 lemons, juice and zest
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste


1. Strain off 1/4 cup of liquid from your ginger bug and set it aside. If you don’t have a ginger bug and want to make one, here are the directions. Your chutney should ferment without a starter but will take a couple of days longer.

2. Toss all the ingredients in a bowl and combine very well. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

3. Pack your chutney into clean glass jars. Between the fruit, lemon juice and ginger bug, the mixture should contain enough liquid to completely cover the fruit and vegetables—this is key to proper fermentation. If you need more liquid, pour in a small amount of water.

4. Replace the lids and set the jars on plates to catch any drips that will likely gurgle out of your live food. Keep the jars at room temperature.

5. Burp your jars (i.e. open them) daily to release built-up carbon dioxide.

6. Taste your chutney after two days. It should taste tangy and slightly effervescent and magical. When you like the flavor, transfer it to the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation.


1. If you don’t have a ginger bug, you can use a different starter. I have not tried adding kombucha but think it should work. You can also leave out the starter. It should ferment but will take longer. 

2. You may need to add some water (I don’t usually). If your water is highly chlorinated (you should be able to detect it by smell), pour some into an open jug the day before you make this. The chlorine—which can kill the microbes necessary to ferment this—will dissipate.

3. Don’t panic if your ingredients begin to float up to the top of the jar. This happens with my fruit chutney and also my fermented salsa—but only every single time I make them. When you notice this, just stir everything up and taste your chutney. It’s likely ready at this point.

Be calm and stir this
peach mango chutney
After stirring

15 Replies to “Fermented Fruit Chutney”

  1. I’m going to try this one 🙂

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Great. Enjoy!

  2. It’s delicious! Thank you so much for the great recipe!

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      My pleasure, Sophia. I’m glad you like it. ~ Anne Marie

  3. Great idea to use ginger bug to inoculate chutney. Thank you. ( I was just going to use air ferment or use yogurt whey, like I have before, but will use my ginger bug instead, which should be better as chutney recipes calls for ginger anyhow.)

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Thanks LC. The ginger bug seems like the perfect match for chutney. I have a vat of pear-cranberry chutney fermenting right now. The ginger bug tastes great in there too. Enjoy! ~ Anne Marie

  4. Thank you for this. It’s time I get beyond sour krauts!

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      My pleasure, Marla. Enjoy your chutney! ~ Anne Marie

  5. Made this up today and am using Pickle Pipes for “lids”. IMG_2300.JPG (Sorry if the image doesn’t come through). If it does come through, the other jars contain my ginger bug and the lemon water I made using some ginger bug and the leftover lemons from making the chutney. No waste!

  6. David c Green says: Reply

    Dumb nooby question here but I tried to make a heavily fruit themed chutney. The concoction was primed with a bit of my home brew kombucha and the sugars from the fruit produced far to much liquor. The more solid root veggies are still to hard to be properly fermented but the fruit is now floating in what can only be described and sparkling prison wine. How do I do this without making a ton of booze in my fermenting?

  7. Terri Ensslin says: Reply

    Made this.. seems more sour than sweet and tastes like cinnamon.. anyway to counteract the cinnamon flavor..added some sugar…also usung fermebtatuon lids..

  8. Thank you soooo much for this recipe – I’ve been making up large batches of this ever since the first one, its soooo good! I add extra chilli for my hot-loving taste buds and use whatever fresh organic fruit I can forage or get out of my garden! For example I made batches using pomegranates, including the skins and pith, some with watermelon rind and apple, grapes and apple, mango and apple, anything plus Apple actually..!

    1. Oh wow, those all sound like great combinations, Heather. I love it with a bit of hot chilis. I’m going to have to make some with pomegranate. Thanks for sharing!

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