The Cottage Smallholder

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Plum and Tamarind Chutney Recipe

This can also be made with damsons – cut the tamarind amount by half and add more sugar to taste.

Photo: Plum tree

Photo: Plum tree

Anyone who owns Oded Schwartz’s superb book Preserving  is very lucky indeed. Published in 1996 it is now sadly out of print. Danny found a copy on Australian Ebay for me one Christmas and I’ve used it endlessly since then. It is packed full of mouth watering photographs and inspirational recipes. Last week I spotted that he adds tamarind to a plum chutney, as this is one of my favourite ingredients at the moment my mind began to whir. How about developing a chutney that just contains fruit rather than a combination of onions and fruit.

So when Danny returned home with a 500g box of organic grapes that he had bought for fifty pence and I spotted that we had ripe plums in the garden I decided to have a go. The overall flavour is rich and tangy. Perfect with curry or cold meat or stirred into a game casserole.

As with all my chutneys, the secret is in the long cooking time which allows the flavours to mellow and develop and reduces the need for maturing in the jar. This chutney can be eaten immediately but will improve with keeping.


Plum and Tamarind Chutney Recipe
Recipe Type: Chutney
Author: Fiona Nevile
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 5 hours
Total time: 5 hours 30 mins
  • 3lbs/1350g wild plums/damsons/eating plums
  • 1lb/450g of seedless grapes
  • I lemon quartered lenthways and sliced fine
  • 10.5 ozs/300g dried apricots (chopped at least into eight)
  • 7 ozs/200g dried sultanas
  • Half lb-1lb/225g-450g of soft brown sugar, depending on how sweet your wild plums/damsons/eating plums are.
  • 4.4ozs/125g of tamaring block (soaked for 20 minutes in a mug of boiling water then seive and reject the seeds). I added the tamarind infused water to the chutney too.
  • You can used two tablespoons of tamarind paste as an alternative.
  • 2″ stick of cinnamon
  • 2 large cloves of garlic chopped fine
  • Half tsp of cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp of allspice powder
  • 1 tsp of allspice berries
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1and a half pints/750 ml of white wine vinegar
  • 3 small hot birdseye chillies (seeds removed) Chopped fine
  • 2 tsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 5 juniper berries
  • 15 black peppercorns
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of yellow mustard seed
  1. Stone the plums and if big enough cut into slices.
  2. Place all ingredients in a large heavy bottomed (non reactive) saucepan and bring slowly to a gentle boil. Turn the heat down immediately and simmer very gently (tiny bubbles just breaking the surface on the lowest heat) for at least five hours until the mixture has broken down and thickend.
  3. Stir from time to time and more towards the end. If your simmering point is higher than ours, your chutney will be ready sooner. Take a peek every half hour or so. The chutney will thicken as it cools.
  4. When ready pour into sterilised jars and cover with plastic lined metal lids.

  Leave a reply


  1. Hi Fiona,
    I have to leave my chutney to cool about half way through – I will be bringing it back to a simmer and completing it tomorrow – is this likely to affect the taste or consistency?
    Have been using your site for 3 years now – everyone loves the results! Thanks

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Finona

      I often make chutney over two days. If you are gentle with it it will not affect the taste or consistency.

  2. Thank you Fiona for the links my humble blog! I hope I haven’t drifted too much from your original recipe. I can only assure you it is delicious even without the grapes… especially with a pork roast.

  3. What a fascinating and inspiring website! I was lucky to discover your website while looking for some new damsons transformation ideas (I have been offered over tons of damsons from my family’s garden). I am already making jam and planning damsons gin I saw in your another post (mine aren’t wild though…) and I’ll definitely try out this chutney recipe! I didn’t really like my last year’s “classic” damsons chutney, I also think onions were the problem, since usually I like plums in savoury sauces and similar preserves. Anyway, this one looks delicious especially since I am a big fan of juniper. It seems to be the perfect chutney for me! I have all the ingredients apart from grapes, will try leaving them out and putting more damsons… do you think they are very important?

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Mary

    The juniper berries add an aromatic edge to this chutney, I don’t know what you could use instead. They are not an essential ingredient so if I was you I’d just leave them out.

    I’m sorry I’ve not made plum and coriander chutney – why not experiment? I’d love to hear how it works out if you do 🙂

  5. Mary Bleakley

    Plum & tamarind chutney sounds delicious, very keen to try this summer but what/where is the equivalent to your juniper berries. Also how does onemake plum &coriander chutney. From down under NZ

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Chris

    I’m so pleased that you like my recipe. I’m making my fourth batch as my fingers fly across the keyboard.

    I de-stone my plums by simmering them in some of the vinegar the night before. The stones are easily squeezed out the next day and perhaps this helps with the setting.

    Thanks for thee tip about the tamarind block – sieving it has been a bit of a palaver.

  7. Chris Sterry

    PS I found the second time that blitzing the tamarind block with boling water in the liquidiser for a few seconds made it much easier to push it through the sieve

  8. Chris Sterry

    I made two batches of this, both with sweet plums. The second I put in 1 pt of vinegar and it set better. It sells well at Church sales, and I personally love it!!! Thanks for the recipe, which has been handed on to several freinds with plum trees

  9. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Lisa

    So pleased that you liked this recipe. I’ve tried it with a tamarind block and tamarind paste and they both work well.

    This chutney has been a big hit here at the cottage. Making my fourth batch today.

    Hi Carolyn

    I use Delia’s trick.

    The night before I simmer the plums/damsons in some of the vinegar. In the morning, when the fruit is cold, it’s easy to squeeze out the stones.

  10. Has anyone a top tip on stoning damsons…. I made this yesterday and spent almost as long doing the stones as cooking the mixture. I have another 3lbs of damsons to go & would do anything to minimise the stoning!

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