The only chutney I have ever really used has been store bought. I thought it was okay, but nothing to write home about. Well, my friends, that is true no more for I have discovered the sweet piece of heaven that is homemade chutney.

This basic pear chutney recipe came from the Ball cookbook, but I made some variations along the way. It probably took about two hours minding the stove to cook everything down, but Jay and I were enjoying a fine bottle of wine (or two) and the time seemed to just fly by. In fact, this whole evening turned into my favorite of the entire year, but that’s another post for another blog.

Peach or Pear Chutney

  • 4 quarts finely chopped, peeled, pitted peaches or cored pears (about 20 medium)
  • 2-3 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about i medium)
  • 1/4 cup mustard seed
  • 2 Tablespoons ginger
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1 hot red pepper, finely chopped
  • 5 cups vinegar

To paraphrase their instructions, throw everything in a giant stock pot and cook until it’s about 1/4 of the amount. Everything should be pretty broken down, like a big chunky salsa or something. I didn’t stir so much at the beginning, but once you get down to about 1/2 the original amount, it’s time to start paying attention. Boil in a hot-water bath for about 10 minutes once you’ve filled the pint jars within a 1/4″ of the top and adjusted the rings.

People say you should follow canning instructions closely, but I deviate slightly. I am one of those cooks that throws in a little of this and that, so my canning goes the same way – with some restraint since all those flavors develop a lot more over time once canned. First, I used my plethora of asian pears instead of european pears. Second, I used golden raisins and dried cranberries instead of plain raisins. Lastly, I doubled the onion and garlic because I like things strong like that. So nothing crazy, but little diversions.

Oh momma, was this chutney good! It’s a wonderful combination of savory and sweet, which I love. It would be so delicious served with any meat, a cheese plate, over cream cheese with crackers, on sandwiches, over baked brie… wow, I am starving now thinking about it. I wonder if you could serve a little over a plain cheesecake, or would that go too far?

You didn’t see this, but after writing that last sentence, I got so hungry for it that I cracked open some leftovers over cream cheese and am currently eating with crackers. And yes, as expected, a lovely little piece of flavor heaven. Now I need to go get more.

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