Sunday 10 May 2009

Plum Chutney

I rarely eat plums. Why? It’s a mystery. I love stone fruit and think plums are gorgeous to look at. Maybe it is because I have fond memories of blood plums that I ate as a child. Now I rarely see them in the stores and, when I do, they are soft and too sweet rather than tart and crisp. But I do love plum jam. So it was no surprise to find a plum and apple chutney recipe that delighted me.

I saw the recipe in the Australian BBC Good Food Magazine that my mum lent me (I promise I will return it one day, mum). I bought some plums that looked a pleasing hue. But then I struggled to find time and energy to make it. Not just the time to make sure I stirred it enough so it wouldn’t stick but also to prepare the jars.

I finally made the chutney when my plums had sat in the fruit bowl a couple of weeks and I was beginning to worry they would go mouldy before I got a chance to preserve them. Isn’t it strange the things that motivate us! I only learnt to ride a bike when I was young because my mum told me if I didn’t use my new bike it would be given to my younger sister. I learnt to ride quick smart!

I made it on the weekend when E was about and my dad was visiting. This was useful as I was able to ask them to help with frequent stirring when I was occupied with Sylvia. I hadn’t checked the weight of plums needed for the recipe so I needed to adjust measurements from the 1.5kg to my 600g of plums. I also found that mine took half the simmering time suggested by the recipe.

The resulting plum chutney was a dark and brooding sauce (a little neofolk, said E) with spicy flavours that were not so strong as to obliterate the plummy taste. I have a photo of the inside of the plums because it is a mystery to me how such light flesh becomes such a deep purple colour. Maybe it is the dark skins with the blue-purple colour of a bruise? Whatever the cause, that is what I love about plum jam and plum chutney. Who can resist such a hue!

When it was first made, I tasted the chutney and found it a bit rough textured with the finely ground spices. But once the chutney had sat for a bit, this odd texture disappeared. I found a recipe for plum chutney by Rita Erlich on the web. She suggests placing whole spices in a muslin bag while you simmer the chutney for a smoother texture. She also says to keep a couple of months before using. I am sure this is good advice but I am too impatient or disorganised.

The recipe suggested it would make a fine accompaniment to venison. Not in my kitchen. We ate it with gusto with everything from cheese and bread to vegetarian sausages to the spanikopita that my mum made for us. It improves any food. We are on to the second and last jar now. I wish I had bought more plums so we could have oodles of bottles in the pantry for our pleasure and to give away for gifts. Maybe next year.

Plum Chutney
(Adapted from Australian BBC Good Food, March 2009)

600g plums, stoned and chopped
1 cup brown sugar (not packed)
1 cup cider vinegar
1 granny smith apple, peeled and grated
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground cumin
¾ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp chilli paste
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp salt

Place all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 – 60 minutes (the recipe said 60 minutes but mine took only 30 minutes) till slightly thickened and syrupy.

I poured some hot water over jars (using tongs to empty them in the sink) and let them air dry. I spooned hot chutney into the dry jars and sealed them straight away.

I wasn’t too bothered about sterilisation because I knew it wouldn’t last long. (If I thought the chutney would sit around longer I would boil the jars for about 10 minutes in boiling water.) I made two jars and when I opened the second jar (which had been in the pantry) after 3 weeks (in which we ate the first jar) it was fine. Keep in fridge once opened.

On stereo:
The hill for company: Sodastream


  1. Interesting that you like your plums to be tart and crisp. I assumed that everyone preferred them soft and sweet but you're quite right that they're good tart and crisp. The plum chutney looks yummy! I don't eat chutney too often.

  2. Wow what a gorgeous colour! And it sounds delicious too.

  3. I have to make this one, it sounds really yummy! I am looking at the recipe and thinking I have plums etc, do I have enough to make just one jar?

  4. Hmm you know I don't think I've ever seen plum chutney but I don't know why! Sounds like a great flavour :) Blood plums are my favorite too.

  5. Sounds like an interesting topping for all kinds of foods, one the HH would surely love. And it must be those dark skins that stain everything deep purple!

  6. I'd probably cut back on the sugar a bit, but apart from that, this sounds wonderful. Your pictures encourage me to try this sooner than later!

  7. I love plums...they are one of my favorite fruits. This sounds like a delicious chutney, not to mention it looks gorgeous!

  8. i love the spices you've added. i love red plums and will try this when i get them.

  9. Thanks Ashley - I like my fruit on the tart side - and I love chutney - I think it is like upmarket tomato sauce (or ketchup) to me

    Thanks Vegetation - I could eat it just for the colour

    Thanks Holler - I found that this recipe is really flexible as I changed the quantities according to the amount of plums I had and used more spices than the original and it wasn't a problem

    Thanks Lorraine - plum chutney is something that seems more old fashioned because you don't see it in the shops a lot

    Thanks Ricki - I think you are right about the skins but it amazed me how light it looked before cooking and then dark after

    Thanks Lisa - I am sure it would taste great with les sugar but wasn't overly sweet

    Thanks Elly - I am wishing I had bought more plums over summer now as this chutney has enthused me about plums

    Thanks Bee - yes the spicyness is just right for me - hope you like it

  10. I just bought plums and I am planning on making plum chutney this week. I will let you know! I love your website, and you inspire me. please keep on writing and sharing recipes..thank you for shearing your post.


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