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.
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.
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.
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
- 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
- Combine the apples, vinegar, dates, shallots, currants, ginger, salt, chili flakes, cardamom, star anise, and cinnamon sticks in a low, wide pan.
- Stir to combine and place over high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-high.
- 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.
- When chutney has thickened sufficiently, remove the pan from the heat.
- Remove cinnamon stick and star anise pieces.
- Funnel into clean, hot jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
- When time is up, remove jars from canner and place them on a folded kitchen towel to cool.
- 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.
I **LOVE** this.. I try not to eat too much actual sugar (which makes canning things kinda.. difficult) I’m going to make this PRONTO!
Gorgeous recipe. Thanks for going out on the suagr-free limb!
Holiday Gift????? Perfect!
This looks Wonderful
I just made this and it it really salty. Is 1 tablespoon of salt correct?
I’m so sorry that you’re finding it too salty. I found that it needed that level of salt for brightness, but batches do vary. I will tweak the recipe to make it a range.
No problem – just wanted to be sure.
I think the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of salt?
KOSHER salt. If you’re using table salt, you should use less.
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.
I tried sugar free chutney too, and it is amazing how well it works. My recipe is here: http://deeplanguage.blogspot.com/2013/09/paleo-chutney.html
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.
Just made this today, and it tastes wonderful! A jar is going on the cheese plate for thanksgiving !
Also, I used dried cranberries instead of the currants, since I can’t do grapes.
Silly question? Whole cardamom or ground??
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.
Would it be ok to use onion instead of shallots? Would I still use same amount?? Sounds delicious
Yes. You can sub onions in directly.
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.
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
This preserve will keep for about six months before it starts to lose its color.
Is there an equivalent for star anise if I can’t find it?
Do you mean a substitute? If you can’t find it, just leave it out.
Hi Marisa! Thanks for this recipe 🙂 I had to add about 1 1/2 cups of water because mine was too dry. Will this affect the safety of the chutney? Thanks!
Adding water shouldn’t impact the finished safety at all. I’m sorry that it was too dry, though!
Thanks Marisa! And no apology needed – it is SO tasty!
Excellent site and recipes. Always easy to follow. I was wondering if it is Ok to double this recipe? Also is there a specific type of apple you would recommend or one you would advise against? I follow all your recipes to the t and they always work. The comments and replies that everyone posts are very useful too. I’m not the greatest cook, so I get quite excited when cooking stuff actually works out. Ha ha! Thanks again.
You can double it, but it will take a lot longer to cook. I don’t have any specific apples to recommend, I typically use whatever I have to hand.
I love this recipe! Can I possibly add some honey to the recipe? Also, instead of currents is it safe to use pomagranate arils or perhaps add a little pomagranate juice? Would like to make this as soon as possible as I have two boxes of Mejdool dates that are waiting to be made into a chutney.
All of your suggestions should be okay from a safety perspective (are you trying to make a Rosh Hashanah-themed preserve? If so, I love that idea!). I just can’t advise you because I haven’t done it that way. I will say that if you’re going to add a pomegranate component, I’d go with juice or molasses rather than the arils. They just don’t hold up well in a preserve. If you do tweak it, please let me know how it turns out!
Thanks so much Marisa! Yes it is for Rosh Hashanah. We eat certain foods and make a blessing on it. They are all symbolic. The main ones are Apples, Honey, Dates and Pomegranate! I am super excited to make this tomorrow as I giving it as gifts. How much honey and Pomegranate molasses do you think I should use?
Sorry forgot to ask. How much honey and Pomegranate juice do you think I can use? Wont take up any more threads.:)
I’d use perhaps a cup of honey and the same amount of pomegranate juice.
I plan on making this this weekend. Wondering if I can use sub whole cardamom?
I’ve never tried it, so I’m not sure how that would work.
I made this last year for gifts and it was a big hit!
I wanted to make again tomorrow but I don’t have crystallized ginger, can I use ginger root and how much?
I’ve only made this recipe with the crystallized ginger, so I’m really not sure how much fresh ginger would be good. Perhaps start with a tablespoon of grated fresh ginger and then taste it. You could go up to three tablespoons without issue with acidity.