Bartlett Pear Chutney with Dried Cherries and Ginger

October 13, 2011(updated on August 30, 2021)

pear chutney with dried cherries and ginger

I am a little bit obsessed with the new Bi-Rite Market cookbook. A review copy arrived last week and I haven’t been able to keep my hands off it. I get a lot of cookbooks, so for one to capture my attention so thoroughly is a sure sign that it is an absolute winner.

pear chutney with dried cherries and ginger

I plan on showing you more photos from this magical volume in my weekly cookbook post tomorrow, but earlier today I made a pear chutney inspired by it and I just couldn’t wait to tell you all about it. Made from fresh fall pears, dried cherries, freshly grated ginger and a pinch of ground cardamom, this chutney is heady and intensely flavored. As it was cooking, I couldn’t keep myself from nipping small spoonfuls from the pot. I’ve been craving fall in the worst way and it tasted so deeply autumnal. It was just what I needed.

pear chutney with dried cherries and ginger

Now, I say that this chutney is inspired by the Bi-Rite Market cookbook because while there is a chutney recipe in there that calls for these same main ingredients, halfway through cooking, I veered fairly wildly off course.

pear chutney with dried cherries and ginger

I like my chutneys to be a little bit sweet, strongly flavored and quite acidic. As it’s written, the Bi-Rite version just didn’t give quite me what I want from a chutney (though I adored their choices in fruits and flavors). I pumped up the amount of vinegar, sugar and grated ginger, added quite a bit more liquid and quadrupled the cooking time, so that it could simmer, thicken and soften without running dry.

pear chutney with dried cherries and ginger

As you can see from these final pictures, my finished chutney is deep and dark. The pears give it clean, fruity base. The cherries (as well as a splash of apply brandy) add a boozy element. The pinch of cardamom makes for good fragrance. And the ginger, mustard seeds and vinegar lend edge and pucker. It has a lovely texture that is spreadable without being runny (I cannot abide a watery chutney).

pear chutney with dried cherries and ginger

Please don’t judge it by its tar-like appearance. I promise, when it’s inspected in light slightly more friendly then the overhead fluorescent bulbs in my kitchen, it is nuanced and appealing to the eye. Had I not finished it moments before dinnertime, I would have unearthed the hunk of fancypants clothbound Cabot cheddar we bought this weekend and gone to town with cheese and chutney.

pear chutney with dried cherries and ginger

Truly, I am so pleased with how this chutney ended up. I’ve been feeling uninspired by the kitchen lately and so it was such a joy to find a recipe that captured my attention and motivated me to chop, cook and improvise. Any cookbook that can motivate me to gather ingredients and dash to the stove is one that is worth its space on the shelf. Don’t you agree?

Adapted wildly from the Bi-Rite Market cookbook
Makes 3 half pint jars

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Bartlett Pear Chutney with Dried Cherries and Ginger


  • 3/4 cup dried cherries chopped roughly
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons apple brandy
  • 4 cups roughly chopped Bartlett pears 4-5 medium pears
  • 2/3 cup sugar


  • Place dried cherries in a heat-proof bowl or measuring cup and pour boiling water over top. Set aside.
  • Heat a large, non-reactive pot or skillet over medium heat. Add oil and heat until it shimmers. Add onion and sea salt and cook until the onion softened and develops a bit of color. Add ginger, mustard seeds and cardamom and cook until spices are fragrant and the mustard seeds begin to pop.
  • Add vinegar and brand to pan and use a wooden spoon to work up any bits of fond on the bottom of the pan. Add dried cherries and their liquid. Add chopped pears and sugar and stir to combine.
  • Reduce heat to low, put a lid on the pan and let pears simmer gently for 30-35 minutes so that they soften.
  • When the pears can be crushed with the back of a wooden spoon, remove the lid from the pot. Increase the heat to high and cook quickly, stirring regularly, to help reduce any remaining liquid.
  • When chutney is no longer at all watery and looks deeply colored, take a taste. Should it need it, add a splash more vinegar, a pinch more salt or a spoonful more sugar. Do make sure to taste for adjustments before canning, as ingredients can vary from kitchen to kitchen and it's the only way to ensure that you'll wind up with a product that you like.
  • When chutney is fully cooked down and tastes good to you, ladle it into three prepared half pint jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
  • When time is up, remove jars from canning pot and let them cool on a folded kitchen towel. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and eaten within a week. Sealed jars can be kept in the pantry for up to one year.


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44 thoughts on "Bartlett Pear Chutney with Dried Cherries and Ginger"

  • That sounds fantastic Marisa! I was wanting to making a pear chutney last year during can jam (for both pomes and dried fruit months) and didn’t get around to it I’ll have to check out the cookbook, because I definitely could use some inspiration that gets me running to the kitchen!

  • Pears, dried cherries and ginger are currently my 3 favorite flavors! I have to make this! Wow.

    Small typo: “I couldn’t keep myself from nippING small spoonfuls from the pot”
    Sorry, I don’t mean to be annoying with typos. I hope people point mine out!

  • Marisa, I was actually going to write that the final product looks gorgeous, such a lovely deep color. I’ll have to seek this book out from the library. Unfortunately my only exposure to Bi-rite is that I follow them on twitter, but based on that alone, I bet the book is great. Love Cabot Clothboundt too!

  • This sounds to die for!!! I’ve actually got 2+ pounds of pears waiting for me at home to make just such a lovely concoction. Just one more thing to add to my weekend to-do list…Thank you, Marisa 🙂

  • I have yet to can a chutney (or make one for that matter), but I do love to eat them! I keep seeing recipes and may finally get on it!

  • I love chutneys!!! My favorite is apricot ginger chutney! But I think this may be next on my list. I even have the pears, ginger and cherries I need. I still have to pick up some brandy… Thanks!

  • I just made a batch. I used Peach Infused Brandy from this summer’s peach canning, Cherries I dried this Summer, the last 5 Bartlett Pears I had from Pear canning, and I substituted Apple Cider Vinegar for the Red Wine, because it’s what I had, and I used 1/2 cup honey instead of the sugar. It is delicious! I jarred it in (7) 1/4 pints. Looking forward to a nice snowy winter night, with a fire in the woodstove and some cheese, crackers, this chutney, a little wine and my husband!

  • Nippling is a very sweet typo.. leave it in!!
    Love this chutney and loved how it developed in your kitchen too, we have pear trees so i certainly have no excuse not to try it. Chutney and cheese is my absolute fav lunch.. c

  • Just curious about the knife with the holes in the blade? What kind is it? Is there a special benefit to the holes?

    I have a few chutney recipes on my canning to do list this year. I haven’t made it before so I’m starting with some basic recipes from UGA’s canning book. I like the store-bought Major Grey type chutney that I’ve had before. I’m looking forward to trying some new flavor combinations.

    1. Beti, that’s a new knife that was sent to me for review by Wusthof. I’ll be posting more about it on Monday. It’s designed for chopping vegetables, the holes are there to help prevent food from sticking to the knife during chopping. So far, it’s something of a dream to use.

  • Hi Marisa,

    Your version of the chutney recipe looks really delicious! We have so many pears this season I’d like to try making some. I have a question: I’ve never made or used chutney before, and I’m just wondering if you or your readers would be willing to share how you serve it or use it in your meals?

    From the comments, I gather it is great paired with cheese. Do you have any suggestions on other ways to use it? Chutney seems so exotic to me, and I’m not sure where to start! Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

    1. Lily, chutney is good added to sandwiches. It works with roast meats (think cranberry sauce with you thanksgiving turkey). It’s good tossed with a warm grain (I like brown rice or quinoa) and eating for lunch. Anytime you have something plain, you can add a bit of chutney to spice things up.

  • This looks delicious and would be a perfect way to use up the rest of my pears! Think dried cranberries would be a good substitute fo the cherries since that’s what I have on hand?

  • I’m curious about the long cooking time. Your pears appear to be bright and not mushy in the final product. I’d think they would break down. Is it the extra vinegar that keeps them from breaking down? And as always, I’m inspired by you! I just pre-ordered the book 😉

  • I just brought home some pears that I was planning to can as is, but now you’ve got me thinking…. This looks great.


    This may be the best birth control ever…who needs my husband anymore if I have THIS with some good ol’ Wisconsin raw milk cheddar? *drools, swoons, and falls to the ground*

    I sent this link to my culinary student brother…all he could say was, ‘HELL YEAH!” 🙂

  • looks wonderful — can’t wait to try!

    Did you peel the pears? The directions don’t specify, but it looks like yours are peeled in the photo. What would you suggest? Thanks!

  • quick clarification for a new “canner”… in your Food in Jars book, the recipe for Apple-Pear Chutney doesn’t specify what to do with the apples and pears prior to tossing them in the pot. I presume that one cores and coarsely chops them…and so, then comes the next question: are the specified weights before or after coring?
    Thank you!

  • I’m having a canning party on Sunday with a few friends, and I’m going to add this to our “menu.” Thanks for a great recipe … can’t wait to try it!

    1. Helene, I’ve not frozen this chutney myself, so I have no idea how it would turn out. However, it’s perfectly safe to can this recipe in a boiling water bath canner, which would make it entirely shelf stable for a year+.

  • I made the chutney and it is wonderful. I used the water bath canning for the first time and am very proud of myself!
    I have more pears and want to make another batch. The pears are very ripe. Is this a problem? Also, can I use brown sugar instead of white?
    Thanks so much.

    1. If your pears are quite ripe, the finished texture of the chutney will probably be a bit softer. That’s okay, it just may be a little different from your first batch. And you can certainly use brown sugar!

  • This looks great. I have a lot of apples to use up and I do have an apple chutney recipe, but I thought it would be fun to try a different one. I could use apples, peeled, here?
    Also, is it worth acquiring the brandy for this? I don’t know what I’d do with the rest of it – does it keep indefinitely?

    1. Margo, so sorry it’s taken me so long to reply to this comment! You could certainly use peeled apples here, if you still have them to use up. And you don’t need the apple brandy. It’s a nice addition, but I don’t think it’s necessary to spring for a whole bottle just for this recipe (though it does keep indefinitely). You could use some apple cider in its place.

  • Yesterday a friend and I made 24, 125 ml jars of your adaptable chutney from the Kitchn for gifting and I have been bit by a chutney-bug. I’ve got this chutney simmering away on my stove right now – the whole house smells amazing and I keep stealing spoonfuls from the pot! I love dried sour cherries and so while the other one I’m going to give away – this batch I’m hoarding all for myself. I can’t wait to lay in a supply of good old cheddar and make sandwiches. Thank you for this and all your other recipes – I really enjoy your site!

  • Today I made three of your recipes: pear-cranberry jam, slow-cooker blueberry butter, and the pear-cherry-ginger chutney; all turned out wonderfully. I do have a question about the chutney: Because it is chunky, there were several air pockets as I filled up the jars. I tried to get them all out, but as I see there are still a few spaces remaining. Is that going to be a problem? (All the lids made that lovely “pock!” sound, so they seem to have sealed fine.) Are they safe? Thank you.

  • Fiddled with the ingredients a bit: 3 Tablespoons grated ginger seemed like too much (would have been nearly the quarter pound I bought) so scaled it back, and used up all the pears I’d been hoarding all month from our tree (about 6 cups, chopped), so ended up with 7 pint jars. Since I didn’t quite know what “fully cooked down” meant, mine might end up a bit watery, though the last 2 jars I filled were quite dry. And, never did get the mustard seeds to “pop” — maybe because they’re not that fresh?

  • WOW. I made this last night; it was my first chutney making experience. Tonight I had it with baked tofu and brown rice and it was amazing. It reminds me of Branston Pickle.

  • If I double or triple (I have a LOT of pears) this recipe, do I increase the spices double or triple also?
    It sounds outstanding. I’ve done a great deal of research and this is the only recipe worth trying.

    1. I’d probably only double the spices if you’re tripling the rest of the ingredients. You can always taste the chutney at the end of cooking and add a bit more if you feel like it needs it.