I’ve had this 5-lb bag of cranberries on the bottom shelf of my fridge since Thanksgiving. I usually buy 10 lbs of organic cranberries, every Fall when they are in season, from Cranberry Hill Farm on Cape Cod, then I make a few cranberry preserves and I freeze the rest for use throughout the year. One bag went directly into the chest freezer (do not Pass Go, do not collect $200), while the other bag went into the fridge: some of the berries ended up in this salsa (twice!) and this salad dressing, but, for the most part, they sat. Waiting. This year it seemed that the holidays were especially busy, and work also got quite busy, so that 5-lb bag of cranberries has been patiently waiting in my fridge, for time, opportunity and inspiration to strike.
This weekend, I finally resurfaced from the depths of Dataville where it seems I’ve been camping out for weeks. I decided to re-work this cranberry chutney recipe, from the early days of the blog: I remember quite loving the flavor of this one, and the spicy heat of the habaneros, but the texture left me a little flat. It was like a thick cranberry sauce, not quite a jam, but without the chunky character that I expect in a good chutney. In the end, I tweaked the recipe quite heavily and ended up with something quite different: tangy, spicy, gingery and nicely chunky. This has a good amount of heat (that I hope is keeping Tai warm, liberally spread on his turkey sandwich, as he guides ice climbers in the Catskills’ below-zero temps today), a touch of the exotic, with flavors of ginger, coriander, lime & mint, and a thick, chunky texture that I hope will persist as the chutney ages on the shelf.
Adapted (heavily) from Cranberry Chutney in The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, J. Kingry & L. Devine, eds.
- 1 cup water
- 1 and 1/2 cups white wine vinegar (at least 5% acidity)
- 6 cups cranberries, rinsed and picked through, divided (fresh or frozen)
- 1/2 cup (2 oz) candied ginger, chopped
- 1 cup (about 5 and 1/2 oz) yellow onion, chopped, divided
- zest & juice (1/3 cup) of 2 organic limes
- 1 tbsp, packed, minced habanero (fresh or frozen)
- 1/2 of a small red chile, minced
- 1 and 1/2 cups raw sugar (organic turbinado)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1, 4-inch cinnamon stick
- 2 tsp dried, crumbled mint
- 1 tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup green bell pepper, chopped (fresh or frozen)
- Prepare canner, jars and lids.
- Add the water and vinegar to a medium (5-quart) stockpot or Dutch oven. Add 4 cups cranberries, 3/4 cup onion, lime juice & zest, candied ginger and chiles and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until most cranberries have popped, about 15 minutes.
- Add sugar, honey, cinnamon, mint, coriander, ginger, red pepper flakes and salt. Mix well and allow to simmer, uncovered, until mixture thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Mixture should still be slightly runny and will thicken upon cooling.
- Pulse the remaining 2 cups of cranberries in a food processor until roughly chopped.
- Remove cinnamon stick and discard. Add remaining 1/4 cup onion and bell pepper. Bring mixture back to a boil and boil gently for 5 minutes. Add chopped cranberries; bring to boil and heat through for 2 – 3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings or sweetener. Ladle hot chutney into hot, sterilized jars to 1/2-inch headspace. Remove bubbles, wipe rims, afix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Yields 7 cups.
- This chutney is not for the faint of heart. Dial back the chile pepper accordingly if you want a less spicy chutney. Do not increase the amount of fresh/frozen chiles; you can always add some dried chile pepper, pepper flakes or ground chile powder if you want more heat.
- The taste of coriander seed did not come through very strongly as it was going into jars; not sure if that will change upon some maturing on the shelf. I’ll report back once I let a jar sit for a month or so.
- Bottled lime juice is not required here, as the recipe is plenty acidic, and any fluctuations in the pH of the lime juice are not important to maintain overall safety of the recipe.
- The onions, bell peppers and chopped cranberries are added at the end to maintain a chunky texture to the chutney. If you prefer a smoother, more sauce/jam-like texture, feel free to toss all of the ingredients in at the beginning.
- If you can’t find dried mint, you could use mint tea (I recommend spearmint if you can find it); either steep 2 tea bags in the chutney while it boils (remove and discard before canning) or add loose tea leaves directly to the chutney, crumbling between your fingers to release the essential oils.
Canned, in a cool dark spot, for up to 1 year. Flavors will blend and mellow if you allow to sit at least 3 weeks before using.
Late Fall through Winter for fresh cranberries. This can be made with frozen cranberries year round.