Putting Up-Cranberry Chutney

For the past few years, I’ve given homemade canned goods as gifts.  After checking the pantry (getting low), I’d better get started making some more stuff.

I discovered two bags of frozen cranberries in the freezer this morning.  Hmmm, how about a cranberry chutney?  This might be a bit more interesting than just a plain cranberry sauce or relish for the holidays.

Here’s the original recipe (thanks, Katie C) that I’m going to start with and then (as usual) tweak it a bit.

Cranberry Chutney (this is a double recipe for 8 half pint jars of chutney)

2 cups apple cider vinegar
1-1/2 cups orange juice
2 cups dried cranberries
2 cups Granny Smith apples, chopped
2 cups onion, chopped
1-1/2 cups celery, chopped
2-12 oz. bags cranberries
2 cups of sugar
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Be very careful when changing a canning recipe.  I feel comfortable making some “substitutions” from the original recipe because:

Apple cider vinegar for white vinegar – vinegars are interchangeable in canning recipes as long as the acidity is at least 5%.  This was just for flavor – since there are apples in the recipe, I thought apple cider vinegar would be a bit more mellow than white vinegar.
Orange juice for water – obviously, orange juice is more acidic than water and I had an orange in the fridge to use up.  And I like orange flavor with cranberries.
Dried fruit (cranberries for raisins) – cranberries are high acid (low pH number) even more so than raisins.

I also feel comfortable doubling this recipe as opposed to a jam or jelly recipe using pectin.  Those can be problematic when doubling, and is not usually recommended.

I’m going to BWB (or boiling water bath) this, so I’ve gotten my canner down, washed ten half-pint jars (always prepare a few extra), the lids and rings, and found my jar lifter, ladle and funnel.

Then I fill the canner with enough water to cover the jars I’m going to use by two inches.  I have lots of minerals in my tap water which leave a white film all over everything after boiling.  I usually use a glug-glug of white vinegar in the water, but I’ve discovered something that works better.

I bought citric acid (which I use for canning tomatoes) and a tablespoon (or two – depending on how much water you need in the canner) of that in the water keeps all the film off the jars. It works great in the rinse cycle of my dishwasher too.  You can purchase citric acid (also known as sour salt) from Great American Spice Company, kosher sections of grocery stores, or winemaking shops.

Canner and utensils are ready – time to start cooking.

CranberriesCranberries freeze really well, and these – even being a year old – look perfect.  I dumped my bags of frozen cranberries into a colander and picked through them.  Rinsed well and drained.

Liquid ingredients and dried fruit.I decided to start by putting the liquid ingredients (vinegar and orange juice) in my maslin pan and add the dried cranberries while I’m chopping the other ingredients.  You probably don’t have a maslin pan, so use your widest heavy bottomed stainless steel pan.  When cooking this chutney, I’ll need to reduce the liquid quite a bit to thicken it, so the more surface area for evaporation, the better.  And a heavy bottomed pan will help prevent burning or scorching.

Add the chopped apples.Next, I added the chopped apples.  The orange juice and vinegar will keep them from browning while I’m chopping the onions.

4-DSCN0774-Add-OnionsNext, the onions.

Add the cranberries.Dump in the celery and drained cranberries.

Sugar and spice and everything nice.Add the sugar (I decided to use 1 cup of brown sugar and 1 cup of white sugar – just a last minute change for taste thing) and the spices.  I found a piece of frozen ginger in the freezer so I used some grated fresh ginger instead of dried powdered ginger.

OK – double check the list of ingredients (yep, everything’s in there) and start the canner heating up (the chutney needs to cook about 1/2 hour, so that should be plenty of time for the BWB to get up to a boil).

Mix the ingredients.Mix the chutney and bring to a boil.

It's starting to boil.The liquid is starting to boil and the cranberries are starting to “pop”.  I’m going to lower the temperature a bit and keep the chutney at a “gentle boil” until it thickens.  Stir gently but often to keep the chutney from scorching.

After 15 minutes...Here we are after about 15 minutes.  It’s reduced about two inches and it’s getting thicker.  I’ve taken a small taste to check the seasonings.  Tastes great so far.  I’ll nurse the flame down to keep the chutney at a gentle boil and, as it reduces, I have to be careful it doesn’t scorch.

Now I need to make sure I’m ready to can.  Oops, forgot to…

Heat the lids.heat the lids in a small pan of water.  The lids should not be boiled – just heated to about 180° to soften that reddish band of silicone to provide a better seal.  Usually when I start to see the bubbles on the lids, they’re hot enough and I turn off the heat.  Note the water is not boiling.  Check the canner.  Yep, it’s just starting to boil.

Just about done.After 30 minutes, the chutney looks just about ready.  The fruit has softened, the liquid has reduced about another inch, it’s nice and thick and it’s smelling really good.

Time to start ladling the chutney into the prepared half pint jars (I love my canning funnel).  I’m leaving about 1/2″ of headspace.  That’s the space between the top rim of the jar and the top of the chutney.

I wipe the rim well with a damp paper towel to make sure there’s nothing between the glass and the lid.  Put on the warmed lid and screw on the ring to hold it on the jar.  Tighten just enough to feel a bit of resistance.


As I fill the jars, I put them in the canner.  Figures – I ended up with 9 half pint jars.  My canner only holds eight (these were wide mouth pints) in a single layer.  So what to do with the ninth?  I can stack the ninth one on top of the first layer because I put enough water in the canner to cover the top of all the jars including the second layer (and wide mouth half pint jars are not as tall as most other jars).  I wouldn’t get away with this using pint jars or regular mouth half pint jars – they’d be too tall for two layers.

Let the jars cool.Process the chutney for 10 minutes keeping the water at a gentle rolling boil.  When the timer goes off, turn off the heat and remove the canner lid.  Let the jars sit in the water for another 5 minutes.  Using a jar lifter, place the hot jars on a nice thick towel and let cool.  I’ll let them sit, undisturbed, until tomorrow morning.  Then I’ll check the seals, remove the rings (store for next time), rinse off the jars with warm water, and they’re ready for labels and gift giving.

I forgot – I have a few spoonfuls that wouldn’t fit.

Cook's treat.Cook’s treat.  Cranberry chutney on a piece of cheddar cheese.  Wow – it’s kinda tart and kinda sweet and kinda spicy all at the same time.  Bring on those turkey sandwiches!

Thanks to Liss at Frills in the Hills for including us in this week’s Make It From Scratch! Blog Carnival.

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