Try something new with the season's cherries - make a delicious cherry chutney recipe that is sweetened with only honey and loaded with chutney flavors of onion, ginger, and raisins. This is a wonderful condiment for any type of meat as well as curries and even roasted vegetables.
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One of the sweet surprises we've had from our farmhouse fixer property is an old cherry tree that not only bloomed with profusion, but also blessed us with a boat load of Queen Anne type cherries. Since it was our first year at this property and we didn't know what kind of tree it was, we didn't know to try some of the yellowing cherries for ripeness. It wasn't until most were turning red that we knew they were not the typical red cherry.
We also had no idea that the harvest window is so short. It was a week and a half between seeing them in a green-yellow stage to them being all ripe - and some already overripe! So began a five day rush to pick, dry, freeze, and put up the cherries before they went bad. And of course a LOT of eating them by the handfuls.
I'm not too sure about cherry trees, but I think ours may have a mold fungus - there were many moldy cherries and if there were good ones touching it, they had brown spots. Also, a lot of the insides were brown when I cut into them. I'll have to do some research on it for next year.
In the meantime, we were able to harvest and use pounds and pounds of cherries. I filled my food dehydrator full (look for my whole-or-cut-in-half experiment soon) and then cooked up a couple of easy recipes to can: a Cherry BBQ Sauce from one of my favorite sites, Food in Jars and the Cherry Chutney recipe I'm sharing here that I developed from a couple recipes in my files (one of which is our fav Addictive Tomato Chutney).
This chutney turned out SO good - and pretty spicy. We like things spicy, but if you don't it's really easy to lessen (or leave out) the red pepper flakes. We've enjoyed it with chicken and grilled sausages so far and I even like to drizzle chutneys like this on roasted vegetables - especially cauliflower. Yum...
And if you'd like a simple and tasty appetizer, start with toasted baguettes or crackers spread with cream cheese and top with this (or any) chutney you have. It's perfect. Really once you have a few jars of this versatile condiment in your cupboard, you'll think of so many ways to use it!
Honey Sweetened Cherry Chutney Recipe
Any cherry chutney recipe starts with...cherries! You can use any kind of sweet cherry in this recipe - if you use the darker red cherries, your chutney will be darker than mine pictured here.
What if you only have tart cherries? I say go for it. You'll just want to taste-test a bit more for sweetness, adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup more honey as desired. I actually prefer things more tart than sweet, so this might even result in a better chutney!
The one time-consuming thing with processing cherries is always getting the pits out. I've read various things from freezing them first (I didn't want to deal with a frozen mess of cherries searching for pits) to cooking them whole for 20 minutes and then squeezing out the pits (seriously, this seem easier?).
I still think it's worth buying a cherry pitter when dealing with pounds of cherries. Actually, SO worth it -especially if it does four cherries at a time like mine. Although now I see that you can get a pitter that pits six cherries at a time for about the same price - nice. You can get a plunger-type pitter that may pit even faster, but at twice the price it would only be worth it if you had a lot of cherries every year to put up.
Whatever you do, don't waste your time on the one-at-a-time pitters - major brands sell these, but at the same price as a multiple pitter, I'm not sure what they would be good for!
Like all chutneys, once you have the fruit ready, you simply add all the ingredients to a pot, bring to a boil and cook down until thickened and reduced by one-third to one-half. Super easy.
I did discover one thing I will do differently next time: I cut the cherries in half as I added them to the pot, thinking I would use my immersion blender at then end to chop up any that were still large. Which worked, though it created more of a sauce-with-large-chunks than the even pieces we prefer in our chutney. So next time I will simply drop the whole cherries into a food processor and whir it a couple times, like I do with our tomato chutney. Then it should cook down more evenly with no need to blend at the end.
Of course you're welcome to prepare your cherries whichever way you wish - you may find you like the larger chunks, which is totally fine. I always say that's one of the main benefits of making your own food - you get to create it to be just like you want!
When the chutney is done cooking you have your choice to water-bath can in pint or half-pint jars or to freeze it. If you're new to boiling water canning, you can follow the easy steps in this tutorial or watch the video below:
I hope you get your hands on some cherries (even frozen cherries will work - and hey, no pitting needed!) and make this cherry chutney recipe - you will quickly be looking for all the foods you can eat with it!
And wondering how you ever did without chutney in your pantry.
Spicy Honey Sweetened Cherry Chutney Recipe
- 4 pounds cherries pitted and halved or chopped*
- 1 1/2- cups onion chopped
- 1 to 1 1/2- cups honey to taste (I use 1 cup with sweet cherries)
- 1 3/4- cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup raisins chopped**
- 3 large cloves garlic minced
- 1 lemon or lime zested and juiced***
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger or 1 tablespoon dry ginger
- 1 tablespoon dry mustard
- 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon salt start with the 2 tsp. and taste test at end of cooking
- 1/2 to 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes to taste (we like things spicy, so 2 teaspoons is our choice - adjust as needed)
- Add all the ingredients to a large pot (6 qt. or larger) and stir well.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to cook at a soft boil (about medium-low). Stir often as the chutney reduces, cooking for about an hour. It is ready when it's reduced by 1/3 to 1/2 and has a thickened consistency.
- While the chutney is cooking, prepare your canning jars, lids and pot according to these directions. You will need to wash and keep 4 to 5 pint jars or 9 to 10 half pint jars warm. (You can also choose to freeze the chutney if you don't wish to can - simply add it to freezer containers leaving 1-1/2 inch headspace.)
- When the chutney is reduced and thickened, turn the heat to low and ladle the chutney into each prepared jar with a 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe rims, attach lids and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water canner. Remove to a towel-lined surface and let sit for 12 hours before checking seals, labeling, and storing in a cool, dark place.
- Canned condiments like chutney should be used within a year to a year and a half.
Other Chutney Recipes to Try:
And a Couple Recipes to Use Your Chutney:
Rhubarb Chutney Salad Dressing (Cherry Chutney would be great in this, too!)
Cranberry Feta Chicken Salad with Chutney Dressing (makes a quick meal in wraps!)
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