Cranberry Chutney

This is part of my preserving column for a bunch of regional Ontario newspapers. For the original post, go here.

Cranberry sauce is a given at Thanksgiving, and for good reason. It’s a sweet and acidic foil to the richer savoury flavours of a traditional turkey dinner. As a child, I was known to devote at least one quarter of my plate to cranberry sauce at holiday meals, and I haven’t modified my behaviour too much in the years since.

As a preserver, however, I want to transform cranberries into something that can get a little more mileage beyond that one annual repast — something that I’ll still reach for readily in February to add intrigue to my meals. A versatile, savoury spread with more complexity than the traditional sauce, cranberry chutney is the answer. This chutney works well to accompany a turkey dinner, but it pairs equally well with cheese or charcuterie, roast chicken or ham, and sandwiches made of any combination of these.

This recipe doubles well, makes a great holiday gift and can be made with fresh or frozen fruit. And although it only calls for a little tamarind concentrate, it’s really worth tracking it down if you don’t have any on hand. Most commonly found in Asian grocery stores, its particular sweet-and-sour flavour lends integral depth to this recipe. While you can make your own paste from tamarind pulp, the concentrate is convenient and great to add to marinades and sauces. In fact, it’s the secret ingredient in my father’s inimitable gravy, which would paid perfectly with this chutney on Thanksgiving weekend.

Cranberry Chutney

Makes about five 250mL jars

850 g (7 ½ cups) cranberries

300g (1 large) onion, finely chopped

250mL (1 cup) apple cider vinegar

330g (1 1/2 cups) brown sugar

87 g (1/2 cup) dried currants

2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp tamarind concentrate

1 tsp chili flakes

1 tsp ground ginger

3/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp ground cloves

Combine all ingredients in a large non-reactive pot. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally and gradually reducing the heat if it sputters and threatens to stick, until the chutney is thick and has a jam-like consistency, about 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and ladle into clean jars to within a ¼” of the rim. Wipe the rims with a damp paper towel if necessary and top with new snap lids. Seal fingertip tight and heat process 10 minutes in a hot water bath.

Allow the jars to cool 24 hours, then check the seals before storing somewhere cool, dark and dry, where the chutney will keep at least a year.

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