Cranberry Chutney – David Lebovitz

Estimated read time 5 min read

Have you ever gone away for a few weeks and found out that you’d left the freezer door ajar? Well, I did. And let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty.

Before traveling, since I’m anti-gaspillage (against food waste), I jammed whatever I could into my already-stuffed freezer, including a half-eaten tomato tart, which I thought would be nice to have ready-and-waiting upon my arrival home, partially-used blocks of butter, and the miscellaneous leftover ends of bread that one collects when one constantly buys too much bread. When I returned, I realized that one of those bread pieces had been caught in the door and kept it from sealing closed.

Oddly, the fridge doors have an alarm, which beeps if they’re not completely shut, but the freezer door doesn’t. Coming home to an array of items that were half-frozen, half-defrosted (with gloopy liquid oozing out of them), possibly defrosted and then refrozen, and a few that were unidentifiable, was a bummer.

Some things I knew had to go – like sausages, stock, and a rather moldy half-eaten tomato tart, that I was sure could be reheated when I returned from my travels. (I won’t share a picture of that, but it looked like it needed a good shave.) But I also had several precious bags of cranberries that I’d stashed away for Thanksgiving and while they weren’t completely defrosted, I didn’t want to (or know if I could) refreeze them, so I decided to make chutney…and a whole lotta it.

Fortunately, all my candied and dried fruits were in fine condition and since I was cleaning my freezer, I also did a little purge of my drawers of things that weren’t sparking joy in my kitchen, and cooked them all up with some spices, some honey, orange juice, and vinegar, to make this tangy-tangy condiment.

(Just a note that dried fruits always spark joy in me. But a drawerful of little crinkled up cellophane bags with thirteen raisins or two dried apricots in them, don’t.)

To share my joy with you, I whittled my catastrophe-size recipe down to a reasonable recipe, but you’re welcome to double, triple, or quadruple it. Although it’ll keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator, I had so much that tightly sealed the overload into freezer bags and placed them back in the congélateur. However next time I’m headed out of town, I’m going to make sure my freezer is tightly sealed, because I’d be a bummer to lose those.

Cranberry Chutney

Feel free to use any type, or combination, of dried fruit. Dates, figs, raisins, apricots, candied ginger, dried cherries, cranberries, pineapples, or other favorites, work well. (Of course, there’s no need to chop the raisins or dried cranberries or cherries, if using.) You could also include chopped candied orange or lemon peel in the mix.

Any tart apple is fine to use, but if using Golden Delicious apples, make sure to chop them very fine (unless you like chunks of apples in your chutney) as they don’t break down as other apples do. If using frozen cranberries, no need to thaw them in advance. Just add them frozen and cook as directed.

An interesting addition is to cook the chutney with a very small branch of rosemary. It’ll lend an herbaceous note to the chutney. Remove it after the chutney is cooked. Or a tipple of whiskey (or an anise-based spirit, such as pastis) added right before the end of cooking could also be nice.

Course Side Dish

Keyword chutney, cranberry, sauce

Servings 3 cups (750ml)

  • 12 ounces (340g) cranberries, fresh or frozen (if using frozen, no need to defrost before using)
  • 1 cup (125g) diced dried fruit, (see headnote)
  • 1 tart apple, cored, and finely diced (peeled or unpeeled)
  • 2/3 cup firmly-packed (140g) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) orange or apple juice
  • 6 tablespoons (90ml) apple cider vinegar, plus more if desired
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground dried ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • pinch red chile flakes
  • pinch salt
  • Mix all the ingredients together in a large saucepan.

  • Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the cranberries pop and begin to break down and release their juices, and the apple pieces are cooked through. Time will vary but it’ll take about 10 minutes or so.

  • Remove from heat and when the chutney is cool enough, taste and add 1 (or 2) tablespoons additional vinegar, if desired.

Serving: Serve with turkey (at Thanksgiving or another holiday), or with poultry, pork, roasted vegetables, or even cheese.
Storage: Store in jars in the refrigerator until ready to use. The chutney should keep for at least a month. It can also be frozen for up to six months. If you wish to can it, you can find guidelines at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.

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