Apple Date Chutney

apples, shallots, and dates

For the last couple of months, I’ve been ruminating on the idea of a chutney sweetened strictly with dried fruit. Though most chutneys typically have a goodly amount of raisins, currants, and dried apricots in them, they also rely on either brown sugar or honey to balance out the tang of the vinegar.

chutney prep

I wanted to see if I could make something delicious using just dried fruit as balance, without even a drop of honey or sugar. And so I called on dates. They pack a mighty wallop of sweetness and I had a hunch that they’d fit in nicely alongside shallots, apple cider vinegar, and star anise in a small batch of chutney.

finished chutney

Well, it worked, and on the first try, no less. This is a chutney that is gently sweet and mildly puckery. You get some of the date flavor in each bite, and that sweetness is backed up by the tiny, tender currants. The apples also do their part, though they carry more of the vinegar flavor than their natural sweetness.

apple date chutney

I used a little last night to perk up leftover chicken. When my sister gets here on Friday, we’re opening a jar to eat with crumbly cheddar cheese. And I have plans to swirl a little into plain yogurt to eat with my next batch of this curried chicken.

Note 1: I did use a little bit of crystallized ginger in this chutney, which does have a marginal amount of granulated sugar on the outside. But I see it as incidental in the grand scheme of things. If you prefer, you could use freshly grated ginger in its place.

Note 2: Remember that chutney is like wine in that it needs a little breathing time before it’s ready to serve. Open your jar at least half an hour before you serve it so that the intensity of the vinegar can mellow.

Apple Date Chutney

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 4 half pint jars

Ingredients

  • 4 cups peeled, cored, and chopped apples (about 3-4 medium apples)
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup pitted and chopped dates (about 6 ounces whole dates with pits)
  • 3/4 cup minced shallot
  • 1/2 cup dried currants
  • 1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Instructions

  1. Combine the apples, vinegar, dates, shallots, currants, ginger, salt, chili flakes, cardamom, star anise, and cinnamon sticks in a low, wide pan.
  2. Stir to combine and place over high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-high.
  3. Cook, stirring regularly, for 40 to 50 minutes, until the chutney no longer looks watery and the apples have softened enough that you can mash them with the back of your spoon.
  4. When chutney has thickened sufficiently, remove the pan from the heat.
  5. Remove cinnamon stick and star anise pieces.
  6. Funnel into clean, hot jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
  7. When time is up, remove jars from canner and place them on a folded kitchen towel to cool.
  8. Once jars are cool enough to handle, remove rings and test seals. Sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up to one year. Any unsealed jars should be kept in the fridge and used promptly.
https://foodinjars.com/recipe/apple-date-chutney/

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29 responses to “Apple Date Chutney”

  1. This is delicious. I just finish canning eight half-pints for Christmas gifts, though I admit I added 1/4 c. brown sugar (for a doubled recipe). If I was true to the no-sugar added recipe, I’d have to throw in more dates because my end product was too vinegary for my taste.

  2. I just made this recipe today and was not able to remove all the air bubbles and it was not through a lack of trying. It looks as though I did not have enough liquid. It took me about 10 minutes to remove the air bubbles from each jar. I thought I had removed most of them but when I removed the jars from the bath after 20 minutes and they cooled I saw air bubbles in the jars. The jars seem to have all sealed correctly. The taste is absolutely amazing I am looking forward to having this chutney with lots of different things.

    • With a dense product like this, you don’t have to worry too much about air bubbles. Also, if the liquid cooks off too quickly during the initial simmer, you can always add a splash of water to help things soften. It could have been that your apples were dryer than the ones I used.

  3. I just made this and substituted 1/2 tsp star anise extract for each star according to an equivalents chart I found online because I didn’t find star anise in the store. I also doubled the batch. I really enjoy the licorice taste in general but it completely overpowered every other ingredient except vinegar. Would it be safe to add more dates? If no I would add a little sugar. The vinegar and anise flavors were too dominant for me. I used white vinegar instead of cider vinegar so maybe that is part of it. I am hopeful that round two will be better.

    • I’d skip the anise rather than use the extract. The star anise has a very light, retiring flavor when used in its whole form. Adding the extract makes it the dominant flavor. As far as the vinegar goes, that needs to stay as-is. It’s what keeps this chutney safe.

  4. How can you be sure that this recipe is safe? Dates are low acid as you yourself state. Has this recipe (Apple Date Chutney) been tested? I would have thought that this would have to be canned in a pressure canner, and I would do that but I can’t fine any recommendation on how long dates need to be in the pressure canner.

    • The combination of apples and vinegar in this recipe bring so much acid to the table that the relative low acidity of the dates isn’t an issue. There’s enough vinegar alone to essentially pickle the dates.

  5. been apple picking and looking to preserve some but diabetic n don’t want to add sugar… can anyone advise how long this will last without sugar added? Or can I cook, bag up and freeze for a while?

    Thanks in advance. Love the idea of this recipe. will be cooking it up over there weekend. x

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