Pear & Date Chutney

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Preparation info

    • Difficulty


Appears in

The Sugar Club Cookbook

By Peter Gordon

Published 1997

  • About

Chutneys and relishes are such wonderful things to make, to store and also to give away. Like bread, once you’ve made them a few times you should experiment with your own flavours. If they turn out a disaster, all you’ve lost is a little time and money, but with luck you’ll have learned something that will make your next attempt better.

At Gran’s house there would always be different chutneys in the cupboards. Some she had made herself, but others were prepared at Aftercare, an organisation she helped set up to enable mentally disabled people to return to the community. One of Aftercare’s great chutney makers was my aunt Mary, who, with Gran’s help, also taught me a thing or two.


  • 3kg (lb) ripe pears
  • 1kg (lb) pitted dates
  • 1.5kg (lb) demerara sugar
  • 1 litre ( pints) cider vinegar
  • 200ml (7fl oz) cooking oil
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground red chilli powder
  • 1.5kg ( lb) red onions, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1kg (lb) carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt


Wash the pears, cut them into quarters and remove the cores, then chop each quarter into three chunks. In a large bowl mix the pears and dates with the sugar and vinegar and leave to sit for an hour.

Heat the oil in a pot large enough to take all of the mixture and, once it’s smoking, add the seeds and chilli powder. Fry for half a minute, stirring well, and then add the onions and fry for 3 minutes, stirring continuously. Add the carrots and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the fruit mixture and salt and slowly bring to the boil, stirring constantly. When it comes to the boil turn the heat down to a rapid simmer and cook for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Make sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pot to ensure that nothing sticks or burns.

Heat up some glass or ceramic jars with fairly hot water for a few minutes. Tip out the water and spoon in the chutney almost to the top. Screw on the lids and let the jars cool. Store in the fridge or a cool dark cupboard, where the chutney will keep for a few months.