Sweet Cherry Chutney

July 17, 2014(updated on August 30, 2021)

sweet cherries

I spent last Friday evening at the Whole Foods Market in Devon, PA, teaching a group of lovely ladies how to make and preserve a small batch of sweet cherry chutney.

Because it takes a bit longer than jam to cook down, I don’t often choose chutney for my classes and demos. But it happened to fit nicely for this particular class, and I’m so glad it did because it reminded me of just how good this particular preserve is.

chopped sweet cherries

I went home on Friday night with a stash of cherries from the sale and spent a chunk of time over the weekend pitting the cherries and slicing them into quarters (because I’m insane like that). I ended up making a larger, slightly tweaked version from the one we made in class, but it was no less delicious.

finished chutney

Once you get through the pitting of the cherries, this chutney couldn’t be simpler. It’s really just a matter of getting the ingredients into the pot, bringing them to a boil, and then cooking until the ingredients marry and the liquid evaporates. There’s no need to monitor the temperature or check for set. It’s done when it doesn’t look watery anymore.

Another nice things about making a preserve like this is that you can break up the cooking time. While my batch was simmering, Scott and I decided that we wanted to go for a walk. I just turned off the stove and slid the pot to a cool burner. When we got back, I brought the chutney back to a low bubble and finished it off.

Oh, and one more thing. If you don’t have the mental fortitude to pit and chop 4 pounds of cherries, try making this chutney with plums. It works just as well and isn’t as tedious.

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Sweet Cherry Chutney


  • 4 pounds cherries pitted and diced
  • 2 cups minced yellow onion about 1 large
  • 2 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup dried sweet cherries
  • 2 lemon zested and juiced
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seed
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes


  • Prepare a canning pot and 5 pint jars (or a combination of pints and half pints that hold a total of 10 cups of product).
  • Combine all ingredients in a large pot, stir to combine, and bring to a vigorous boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until the mixture has reduced and developed a thick, spreadable consistency, about 50-60 minutes.
  • When the chutney is finished cooking, remove the pot from the heat. Ladle the chutney into the prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

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42 thoughts on "Sweet Cherry Chutney"

  • Looks delicious. I have been enjoying trying your small batch preserving, so I’m wondering if I can halve everything and it would still work?

  • You inspire me to try your recipe Marisa. As regards your insistence on quartering your cherries, I have been saving cherry stones for the last 10 years and have a big jar full. Why you might ask? To make into cherry stone warmers of course! But that last bit hasn’t happened yet but I still have to keep the stones.
    I had a year of the cherry a few years ago, when I had access to a row of morello cherry trees and that year was an abundant harvest. The idea of cherry preserves seems so romantic to me, but the jams I have made with them has not matched that magic. They have been good but not brimming with cherry-ness!

  • What would you eat this with? I’ve recently started preserving in recent weeks with the summer fruits, but I think my biggest problem is using my preserves for more than just toast and PB&J!

    1. It’s delicious with creamy cheeses (like brie or chevre), spread into sandwiches, or served dolloped along side roasted vegetables in a rice or grain bowl.

  • This was a fantastic recipe! So glad to have met you. Look forward meeting you again. I loved the chutney and my friends did too.

    1. Noelle, thanks again for coming out on Friday! I am so happy to hear that you and your friends like the chutney!

  • Though the cherry version of course looks great, this sounds like an excellent way to use up our yearly treeful of fresh plums! (Next year, that is. They’re ripe June 1st.)

  • Marisa, you have impeccable timing! I have about five pints of cherries in my fridge from a recent farm visit. I am dying to try a good chutney recipe. It IS the pitting aspect of the recipe that is the most time consuming. I just play a good playlist, grab a glass of wine, and find a willing friend to assist with the pitting! Doing this in a day or two! Thanks!

    1. You can buy cherry pitting devices, some single cherry pitters held like pliers and other larger versions that clamp onto your counter and then slowly load the cherries in to be pitted.
      still time consuming, but not like pitting with a knife.
      check out amazon, etc.

  • This is just beautiful! We picked 40 pounds of big sweet cherries in Hood River week before last. I pitted the whole load……one cherry at a time. Actually not a bad way to spend the afternoon…..on the patio with the music up ….the chickens running around, dog chasing chickens, a bit of chaos, but better than scrubbing floors 🙂 i froze about half of them……so good on warm summer nights. I think i will pull some back out of the freezer though. This just sounds so lovely with a nice roast pork sandwich 🙂
    Keep up the good work…..you are so inspiring

  • I made this last night and my 4 year old wandered downstairs at 11 pm and said “Mommy, something smells good.” The jars are so pretty! Can’t wait to roast a pork loin and try this.

  • Couldnt wait any longer…..took a jar and a hunk of cream cheese to my knitting group tonight. I just served it with wheat thins……but thinking a hunk of chevre and a baguette would be DIVINE. Little lady, you have outdone yourself with this one. Sooooo good. I only made a half batch…..going to make another half this week. Slivered almonds would have been a very nice topping too!
    Thank you!

    1. Thanks so much, Mary Beth! I am so happy to hear that it was so well received by your knitting group! Hooray!

  • Hi Marisa,
    I love your blog and recipes. I’m always a bit concerned about food safety when canning so have a quick question for you. I just tried this recipe (they’re sitting in the boiling water bath right now!) and it took a bit longer to reduce to what I thought was the right consistency (2hours). My total yield, however, is only 3.75 pints (i used half pint jars so 7 full jars and a bit left over). From a food safety standpoint, is that ok…as long as the seal is tight? thanks! (ps. it’s delicious!)

    1. The longer cooking time will not impact the finished safety of this preserve. It may just be that your cherries had more water content than mine. Or that you cooked at a slightly lower temperature. It will still be safe.

  • Hi!
    In the midst of making this and realized I was using tart cherries.
    Should I add more sugar to help it set?
    Or,wait and watch and see if it doesn’t develop a “thick spreadable”
    Consistency and then add more sugar ?

    1. I’d just go with it and see how it does. Chutneys don’t depend on sugar for their set so much as they just need to cook down.

    2. How did the sour cherries work with this recipe? I have an abundent sour cherry tree and want to try this!

      1. I did this with sour cherries last year and it was delicious. Doing the same again this weekend.

  • What are your thoughts about making the chutney with the pits still in the cherries and then removing them after with a slotted spoon or by pressing the chutney through a colander with large holes?

    1. I wouldn’t do it. The finished chutney is super chunky and so it will be madness trying to fish out all the pits. The only workaround I suggest is simmering the cherries in an inch of water until they’re just soft. Let them cool and then push the through a sieve or food mill. The texture of the finished chutney won’t be exactly the same, but if you can’t bear the other method of pitting them, it will work.

  • Smells divine cooking along. Had to sneak a taste. Going to be a keeper! What a surprise the red pepper flakes make! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  • This recipe sounds wonderful, but I’m afraid I’ve just missed out on fresh cherry season in Pittsburgh and will likely have to wait until next year to give this a try with cherries. I’d like to try a small batch with plums like you suggested; would you recommend peeling the plums, or is it ok to leave skins on for chutneys?

    1. Unless their skins are impossibly bitter, I never peel plums. Just swap the same amount of plums by weight right in and chop them up!

  • Now that it is cherry season again, I am looking in the archive for recipes. I tried the sweet cherry bbq sauce and it was tasty but sweeter than I like – I would try again with less sugar. Would that recipe and this one be safe if the sugar was reduced by a third or a half?

  • Can you cann refrigerator pickles ?
    Do u need them to be done pickleing (?)before boiling the jars?

    My refrigerator pickles are done after 3 days left on the counter..

    Thank you.


    1. If the recipe wasn’t designed for boiling water bath canning, I don’t recommend that you try processing it.

  • When you say red pepper do you mean capsicum or chilli flakes. In Australia red pepper means capsicum. Thanks for your help. I am so looking forward to trying this.

  • Every recipe I see there is no mention of how long it may be kept.
    I have made chutneys before and always the instruction is bottle in sterilised jars for months.

    Most recipes now say keep in the refrigerator.

    I’d like to make this recipe but I need to keep it until Christmas for gifts to friends.

  • Lucky to have our own cherry tree and picked 6 lbs before the crows and starlings finished it off. Left out the candied cherries and used one cup blackberry vinegar and one cup apple cider vinegar. White onion instead of yellow.

    1. I live in the US. This is how I write recipes. There are lots of tools you can use to convert the measurements.