Homemade Christmas gift – Spiced plum chutney

It is always difficult for me to find a good Christmas gift for my dad.  However he always appreciates something that I make myself, much more so than any other person in my life.  So for the past few years I’ve made him some jam to add into his Christmas parcel.  A few weeks ago I had a glut of plums to use up, but in a break from the (now traditional? jam) I made this Spiced Plum Chutney.   The original recipe was from Mary Cadogan on BBC Good Food but I adapted it a bit for things I already had in the house…


1 kg plums (halved, stoned & finely chopped)

100g dried fruit (roughly chopped – you could use cranberries to make it more Christmassy – I used sultanas ’cause that’s what I had)

1 tbsp finely grated ginger

1 tbsp black mustard seeds (I used whole grain mustard ’cause I didn’t have any mustard seeds)

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp paprika

1 tsp chilli flakes (I used 2 tsp lazy chilli instead)

750ml red wine vinegar (I used 500 ml red wine that had ben open in the cupboard for months + 250ml red wine vinegar: you do need to make sure you include some vinegar as this and the sugar are what preserves the chutney and allows it to be kept for ages)

3 onions (finely chopped)

500g light muscovado sugar (I used 300g light muscovado ’cause that’s all I had left + 200g golden caster sugar)

Method: Put all the ingredients, except the sugar into a large pan and stir well.  Bring slowly to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the plums are tender – about 10 to 15 minutes.  Stir in the sugar plus 2 tsp salt and keep stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Boil uncovered, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until of chutney consistency (if you haven’t made chutney before, then aim for the consistency of your favourite store-bought chutney: think what it is like when you take a spoonful out of the jar).  This can take anything from 20 to 45 minutes depending on how ripe and juicy the plums were.  Pot into sterilised* jars, seal, label and store for at least two weeks before eating.  It will keep for up to six months in a cool dark place.

All-in-all there is about 30 minutes of prep work and 30-60 minutes of cooking.  If you are short of time (or short of energy, like I am right now) to do this all in one go then it can easily be split over two days.  I chopped the plums & dried fruit, mixed in the spice and left them in the fridge overnight.  Then I did the rest the following day.   I ended up with three jars…

Spiced Plum Chutney
Spiced Plum Chutney

*Sterilising & sealing jars:  I simply use old jars that I save throughout the year for this very purpose.  Soak to remove any labels and then wash in hot soapy water.  Rinse well and then allow to dry in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for 10 minutes to sterilise.  For sealing, you can buy special discs and this is advisable if you are going to store it.   If I know it will all been eaten within a few months, I tend to take a shortcut buy just popping on a square of greaseproof paper before screwing on the lid.

Fast forward two weeks…

Now that I’ve tasted the chutney, it seems a bit too sweet.  Maybe this is because I used a different mix of sugars or because the plums were very ripe.  More likely it’s because I didn’t use the full amount of red wine vinegar but swapped part of it for red wine, although the wine had been open for months so it was pretty vinegary.  Anyhoo, if I make this again, I will probably go for 350g sugar instead of 500g.  For this year, I have simply changed the name to “Sweet Plum Chutney”!

Here are my little jars of loveliness all ready to be wrapped up as Christmas gifts…

Sweet Plum Chutney
Sweet Plum Chutney

Do you make homemade gifts too?  What are your favourites to give?  Or indeed to receive?