My daughter MK first made chutney to replace cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving back in 2011 (here is her recipe). We had decided to break up with plastic and realized that we’d also have to break up with cranberries even though we still loved them dearly (such heartbreak!). Almost every fresh cranberry in the US is sold in a plastic bag—not a single plastic bag for each cranberry thank goodness. Although with fossil fuel companies ramping up plastic production at a literally breathtaking rate, you have to wonder if individually plastic-wrapped cranberries will hit store shelves soon. “Now individually wrapped for your protection!”
In addition to this cooked chutney, I have posted a few recipes for fermented fruit chutney on this blog:
But not everyone has caught the fermentation bug and if you don’t start fermented chutney say, five days before your big meal, it may not ferment in time for your dinner. Also, this cooked version tastes incredible—sweet and sour, spicy and fruity—so make it for that reason alone.
Choose your chutney
Some perfectly edible, slightly bruised apples inspired this post. I didn’t have enough for a pie or crumble. I could have made baked apples but because Christmas is next week—and I happened to have ½ cup of dried cranberries on hand—I decided to get one dish out of the way and make this chutney.
You can adapt the chutney recipe based on the ingredients you have on hand but I wouldn’t omit the mustard seeds. They add pungency and complement the sweet and sour flavors. As for the other ingredients, opt for pears instead of apples or kombucha that you’ve brewed to the point of vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar (as I did here) or raisins instead of dried cranberries. (I can buy both in bulk.) For minced ginger, I grabbed my jar of ginger bug—a starter I use for making ginger beer and other natural sodas. Every time I feed my ginger bug, I add minced fresh ginger to it. But when I brew the ginger beer, I use only ginger bug liquid. Cooking with those fermented, already minced ginger bits saves time and keeps the ginger out of the compost.
We ate this chutney at Thanksgiving with nut loaf. So good! It also goes well with Indian dishes. Because it contains vinegar and sugar—both excellent food preservers—it will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of months. The little over 3 cups that I made will last well past Christmas. I better make a special dinner for new years too.
Easy, Adaptable, Sweet & Sour Apple-Cranberry Chutney
- ¾ cup brown sugar, lightly packed see cranberry Note
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar or strong kombucha vinegar
- 1½ pounds unpeeled apples, chopped about 4 medium apples
- 1 medium shallot or small onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger see Note
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ cup dried sweetened cranberries see Note
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seed
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- Combine the brown sugar and apple cider vinegar in a medium pot. Bring to a boil.
- Add the remaining ingredients: apples, shallots, ginger, garlic, cranberries, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, cloves, mustard seed and salt.
- Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour or until thick and greatly reduced. Stir occasionally, breaking up the apples with the back of a wooden spoon.
- Refrigerate leftovers in a jar in the refrigerator for up to two months.