Tuesday, September 28, 2010

mrs. doucet's apple chutney

Fall has arrived and you might be wondering two things:

1. What will I do with all the blemished, ugly apples on my tree?
2. What will I bring to parties for the next few months when I don't have time to make anything?

The answer to both questions: apple chutney.

Yup, take a few hours to whip up a batch and then sit back and relax. When it's party time, just pull a jar of apple chutney off the shelf. Stop by the store on the way to the party and buy some fancy crackers and chèvre (or cream cheese if you're averse to goat stink) and get ready to impress the crowds with a homemade appletizer.

Who came up with this brilliant idea? Not me, although I have co-opted the idea so fully that I almost think it's my own.

The brilliance comes from my friend Angela and her mother, Mrs. Doucet, in Nova Scotia. They are two of the best bakers and cooks I know, and have contributed many invaluable recipes to my repertoire. (Remember that lovely yellow split pea dahl?)

And just how did they come up with this chutney? Well, a while back, Angela was at a friend's house for dinner and tried some apple chutney there. She loved it so much that she took the rest of the jar  home to her mother. Angela explained how much she loved it, and asked if her mom could make a recipe for it.

Mrs. Doucet tasted it and created this recipe. Angela says it's exactly like the chutney she first tried. This chutney is dark and thick, with plump raisins and the surprise of fresh cardamom. In short, it is perfect dolloped over a cracker spread with a creamy cheese all ready to adorn your party plate.

P.S. If you were at the Brigden fall fair in Ontario a few years ago, yes, this is the apple chutney that won the prize. 

mrs. doucet's apple chutney

yields 5 1/2  cups

1/4 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. cider vinegar
24 dates
1/2 c. raisins
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. cardamom seeds, crushed
1 tsp. ginger
8 c. apples, peeled, cored and chopped
4 c. sugar

Mix lemon juice, cider vinegar, dates, raisins and garlic in a big pot with a heavy bottom. Cook over medium-low heat until dates and raisins are soft.

Add cardamom, ginger, apples and sugar. Bring to a light simmer. Turn heat down to low and cook slowly for one hour, until thick. Stir often.

Ladle into sterilized jars, seal and can for 10 minutes in boiling water. 

Serve with a creamy cheese on crackers.

This post is part of Fall Fest 2010, which is a community food blogging event to write about (and eat!) seasonal produce. If you’d like to see other Fall Fest recipes for apples, try these:

To Market, To Market with San Diego Foodstuff: Revised Medieval Apple Tart
The Wright Recipes: Apple Stack Cake and Dark Caramel Apples
Eating from the Ground Up: God and Apple Pie
Simmer Till Done: Louisa May Alcott's Apple Slump
Food2: 22 Awesome Ways to Use Your Apples
Cooking Channel: Apple Dessert Recipes
Gilded Fork: Apples—Sweet Seduction
Food Network: Pick the Perfect Apple
White on Rice Couple: Apple picking, and Broiled Leeks with Apple Vinaigrette
Food Network UK: Five English apples you should know and love
Healthy Eats: 31 Days of Apple Recipes
Pinch My Salt: Favorite Apple Recipes
The Sister Project: Third-Prize Apple Pie



  1. Can I just clarify your perception of dates? Coming from "Date land" (they hang low on palms all along the highway), you have to understand that folks here have about 5 different words for dates, depending on the season you eat them. When you refer to dates, do you mean ones that are packed in syrup and are pitted, or are they dry?

  2. Beautiful photos -- I'm glad to have found another VI food blog! Theresa

  3. Good question, Kate! I mean dried or fresh dates. Ours weren't pitted and it wasn't too onerous to pit them and chop them up. I'm jealous of all your date possibilities!

  4. I really enjoyed this chutney....I made it yesterday....but Everyone who has tasted it has found it too sweet. I had even cut the sugar down to two cups but was worried to take it further for fear of it not thickening. Just a note that if you like your chutney not too sweet it is okay to cut it back. Love the dates and cardamom addition. Was it ground ginger or fresh ginger? I used fresh.... I think finely chopped onions or shallots could also be added!

  5. Glad you enjoyed the chutney . . . I like it sweet with crackers and cream cheese, but I could see how you might not like it as sweet if you were eating it as a chutney with Indian food.

    I used ground ginger -- feeling lazy -- but I think fresh would be even better. And great idea about the shallots!

  6. Your chutney looks amazingly delicious. I'm going to make this to give as gifts over the holidays. And your pictures are really good too:)