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Hot spiced plum chutney recipe


Photo: Plums from our garden

Photo: Plums from our garden

I had a yearning for a new plum chutney. Something fruity, spicy and hot. A chutney that could accompany roast pork, lamb or duck and be good with cheese sandwiches. A chutney that would inspire me to find infinite ways to use it.

We have a plum tree in our garden. It has large dark skinned plums. This year the harvest is enormous and during the recent high winds plums rained down on the driveway. Damaged windfall plums are perfect for making jam or chutney. I made a batch of our plum and tamarind chutney and then came up with this recipe. The lemon brings out the flavour of the plums and helps it to set.

It’s got a good chilli kick that comes a few seconds after the fruit bursts on your tongue. Wonderful and surprising. You can play with the amount of freah chilli used. Add them incrementally, letting the chutney absorb their flavour (about five minutes). I added the chopped dried chillies towards the end, a little at a time so as to get exactly the chilli sparkle that I wanted.

The chutney may look a bit sloppy when it’s ready to pot into jars. If you are unsure whether it has set enough, let a teaspoon get completely cold in the fridge – it thickens as it cools (about half an hour). If it is the right consistency for you, heat it the rest up very slowly and gently before pouring into warm sterilised jars with plastic lined lids.

If it’s too sloppy for your taste just bring it back to simmering point and continue string and testing every half an hour. Chutney is very forgiving – you can play with it a bit without ruining it. We always put a few jars away for vintage chutney – two year old chutney is to die for. Leave this chutney for at least a month to let the flvours to develop and mature.


Mouse count 4! We haven’t opened a book on the mice yet. Danny reckons the final count will be 13. I reckon it will be nearer to 50 – we are talking a whole cottage here. One Christmas we caught 13 in just one wardrobe! We’ll be reporting every day at the end of each post until we are (sort of) mouse clean.


Hot spiced plum chutney recipe
Recipe Type: Chutney
Author: Fiona Nevile
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 3 hours
Total time: 3 hours 30 mins
  • 1.45 kilos approx of sweet plums
  • 500 ml of white wine vinegar (don’t use malt or white vinegar)
  • 4 chunky cloves of garlic sliced fine
  • 175g of dried apricots chopped
  • 600g of white granulated sugar
  • I lemon cut lengthwise into 8 slices and sliced very fine (ours weighed 100g)
  • 1 large pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander powder
  • 7 red birds eye chillis sliced fine, include the seeds
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of allspice powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 5 juniper berries
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp of dried chillies, chooped fine with seeds
  1. The night before you want to make the chutney, put the plums in a large heavy bottomed saucepan/preserving pan and add the vinegar. Bring to the boil, cover and leave to cool until the next day.
  2. Remove the stones from the softened plums. Return the plums and vinegar to the saucepan. Add all the ingredients apart from the sugar and the dried chillies.
  3. Bring slowly to simmering point and add the sugar. Stir constantly until you are certain that the sugar has dissolved.
  4. Bring the chutney back to a good simmer and, after an hour or so, add the dried chillis to taste.
  5. Stir every few minutes to stop the bottom burning (this is a labour of love after all).
  6. Eventually depending on the strength of your simmer, the chutney will start to thicken (more like very thick soup than chutney) – mine took 3 hours, stirring every 10-15 minutes or so. Test for thickness by putting a spoonful in the fridge for half an hour and take the saucepan off the stove during the test.
  7. When you have a consistency that you like, very gently reheat the chutney and when it reaches simmering point pour into warm sterilised jars and seal with plastic lined metal lids. Leave for a month to mellow.
  8. N.B. Don’t use cellophane jam pot covers as the vinegar will evaporate and you will be left with relics from a Pharaoh’s tomb after a few months.

  Leave a reply


  1. In Fiona’s original plum chutney she recommends cooking the plums/damsons in a little of the vinegar first and squishing out the stones. I do it this way and wear gloves now ‘cos the first time it nearly took the skin off. I also make damson and plum jam and cook the fruit first for that as well.
    I use the slow cooker as I don’t have to worry about the fruit burning if I forget it 🙂

  2. Grams2Lissy

    Seahorse, I use a plastic slotted spoon when fishing out plum stones. Hope this helps.

    Hazel xx

  3. Thanks 🙂 Will I spoil the flavour if I fish out the stones wearing rubber gloves? I have butchered my hands grating lemons and can’t really think of any other way of doing it. Using a mouli would mean I lose the skins (the best bit in my opinion). I suppose I could look at recipes that don’t require stoning ie gin, vinegar (too sharp?) or jelly (above, like the sound of that one).

  4. I made some with damsons last week – delicious!

  5. You specify sweet plums, and I was wondering whether you’ve tried it with damsons as I have lots of these at the mo.

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Seahorse

      It should work well with damsons too – although I haven’t tried it!

  6. Couple of questions if you don’t mind! I’ve always used the Delia Smith recipe which is excellent, but am tempted to try something else for a change.

    What quantity does this make, eg how many jars?
    Are you using both fresh and dried chillies, as I can’t see dried ones in the ingredients list?
    And how does this compare to the plum-and-tamarind version, is there a lot of difference?

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Bitz

      I made double the quantity. It made 18x220ml jars and 8x100ml jars plus one ‘pound’/450ml jar for us. So this recipe would yield just under six 450ml jars.

      Both this and the tamarind version are good. So is our original plum chutney This new is much fruitier with a chilli kick. In fact I’m continuing to experiment with this one as I’m keen to achieve a red coloured chutney. ATM I’m working on a version with sultanas and fresh orange.

      So you have loads of choices 🙂

      Have updated the ingredients list on the latest recipe – thanks for pointing this out!

  7. That’s a lovely sounding chutney, Fiona. I make a spicy plums sauce with simlar ingredients (I’ll be adding coriander and juniper next time!) and find it hard eating roast pork belly without it these days.

  8. Thank you Fiona, yet again, for inspiration. I went over to the barn today and I’ve got 2 trees groaning under the weight of purple plums. Now I know what at least some of them are going to become! P.S. After the huge success of Andrew and the slow cooker, I’ve taken your advice and ordered a dehydrator, which I’ll pick up on my next visit to the UK. My kitchen would be much emptier without you!

  9. avillagepantry

    This sounds delicious & interesting, especially with the addition of juniper berries. A definate one to try. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Perfect timing. I am about to stone some damsons that I softened last night for some Damson Chutney and there are 3.5 kg of damsons in the steam juicer as I type, for jelly and I still have 3.5kg of damsons to use up. I will have to decide wether to do this one or the Chutney with tamarind, ooh, decisions, decisions.
    If anyone lives in the Guildford area I can point you towards damson heaven 🙂

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