Recipe of the week: Plum chutney

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I owe my chutney-making skills to my mother. The warm, spiced, sweet vinegary smell greets me often as I walk into the farmhouse where there is a pot on the Aga almost daily in the autumn. She uses chutney and her fabulous smile as currency with almost anyone she has dealings with. So it’s rare to see a plumber, chimney sweep or carpet cleaner leave without a pot of something delicious. This deeply plumy, sweet chutney is a store-cupboard staple and pretty much guarantees a fast, efficient appointment the next time your boiler breaks. It is outstanding with mellow mature Cheddar or as an accompaniment to a curry.

Makes: 10 jars of roughly 1 lb each.

Prep time: 1 hour

Cooking time: 4 hours

Stores: 12 months


Vegetable oil, for frying

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp ground cardamom

6 star anise

2 large Bramley apples, diced

300g mixed dried fruit

600g soft brown sugar

500ml white wine vinegar

4kg plums, halved and stoned


1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently sauté the chopped onions until they have softened, then add the spices and cook for another minute. Stir well.

2. Add in the diced apple, plums and dried fruit to the pan and stir it all together. Then put the sugar and vinegar into the pan and stir the mixture until it is well-combined.

3. Bring the chutney to the boil, then simmer for 3–4 hours on a very low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has reduced – it should be thick and glossy. It won’t be as thick as chutney until it cools and sets, but the consistency at this point should be like a thick tomato ketchup.

4. Spoon the chutney into sterilized jars and seal with vinegar-proof lids or a waxed paper circle and cellophane.

Tips and uses

This chutney is best kept in a cool, dark place for at least 1 month, but it really is better if you can bear to leave it for 3 months.