Grandma's Plum Chutney Recipe

Plum Chutney surrounded by ingredients

This Plum Chutney Recipe will Win you Friends

Nearly every year, my plum tree goes into absolutely bonkers plum-production mode and what used to happen is we’d eat a few, give some away and the rest would just fester on the ground. Then, in a rush of homely motivation a few years back I asked my grandma for her amazing plum chutney recipe, and she handed it over in a brown paper bag at midnight.

Being a fan of instant gratification, the cook time made me wince for a moment, but I gave it a try and it’s not actually a problem. You don’t need to watch the pot at every moment, it just sits there making your house smell like a cottage from the 1800’s, and I really think it’s worth the wait. The flavours are just so much more developed than those chutneys that are done in 45 minutes and if you’re comparing it to a plum chutney (or any chutney) from the supermarket? No contest. 

Below is our no-longer-secret recipe showing you exactly how to make plum chutney. You can follow along, print it (the pics don’t print when you do this), pin it and enjoy your new popularity with neighbours and friends. 


Plum Chutney

Spicy, sweet, fragrant plum chutney for all your chutney needs!
Prep Time30 mins
Course: Condiment
Keyword: condiments, plum chutney
Servings: 5 jars


  • Large saucepan
  • Four sterilised jars with lids


  • 1.5 kg Plum pieces
  • 900 grams White sugar
  • 400 grams Onions
  • 40 grams Pickling Spices See notes for details of what I used
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • Vinegar Apple Cider Vinegar or Malt Vinegar


  • Remove the stones from your plums before weighing them. Obviously, you can also go ahead and remove any nasty looking bits and bird poop at the same time. You 'can' peel the plums, but I never do. Who has that kind of spare time in their lives??
    If you are using plums that have the stone firmly wedged in there, just cut the flesh from around the outside of the stone using a sharp knife.
  • Peel the onions and cut into chunks.
  • Put the plums, onions, sugar and salt in your jam pan (large, wide saucepan) and just cover them with vinegar.
    Plum Chutney ingredients in large jam saucepan
  • Add the pickling spices. The correct way to do this is to put the non-powdered ones in a wee muslin bag, but there is also the option to use powdered cloves then remove the cinnamon sticks manually later.
  • Cover the chutney and let it bubble for four hours. Adjust the heat so that it's active but not in danger of boiling over or sticking to the bottom. Give it a stir now and then.
  • After four hours you have a decision to make. At this point you may want to strain off some of the liquid for plum sauce. Totally up to you.
  • Uncover the chutney and let it simmer for another 1-2 hours until it thickens to a chutney-ish consistency.
  • When the chutney looks near ready, turn the heat right down and sterilise your jars. To do this place clean jars lying down in a large pot filled with water and bring to the boil for 10 minutes. Remove from the water using tongs and drain any water out, then place on a chopping board or your bench top (if it's heat safe). The jars will dry through evaporation.
  • Using tongs, dip the lids in the boiling water.
  • While the jars and chutney are warm, fill the jars and lid them.
    Plum Chutney being spooned into jars


The spice mix:
3 cinnamon sticks
1 Tbsp cloves
2 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
Alternative method for sterilising jars: 
You can run your jars through a hot wash in the dish washer and this also gets the job done. 

how long does plum chutney keep for?

Good question! So, one thing you need to know is that the sugars in preserves are at the right concentration to prevent bacterial growth, and the long cooking time in these retro recipes helps too. Hashtag foodchemistry. This doesn’t quite make chutney immortal, but it should be good for around 2 years unopened if properly sealed while the jar is warm.

I personally have eaten a wax-sealed chutney (something I’ve never done) and it tasted fine at six years old. I’m pretty sure my grandma’s generation thinks ‘best before’ dates are a myth.  When you open a chutney, use your animal instincts: does it look and smell good? You should be able to tell if it’s gone off, and of course, if you see any mould, out it goes, even if the rest looks ok. 

Once opened, keep chutney in the fridge and aim to get through it in a month. 

how do i use plum chutney?

Google tells me that ‘how do I use plum chutney?‘ is something people search for. I’m perplexed, but happy to answer the question. Here are some ideas:

  • Add a pretty lid and call it a Christmas present!
  • Put a dollop on any savoury food item, for example a steak, or lentil loaf
  • Make in bulk at sell at the farmers market (you may need to commandeer a commercial kitchen for the production step, depending on your local food licensing situation)
  • Use as a glaze on a meat loaf or lentil loaf
  • Use in marinade recipes
  • Cheese and crackers, so much better with a little blob of chutney on the top
  • Line them up in your pantry. Anyone that looks in there will know you are basically an earth goddess.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve got any more ideas on what to do with chutney, and I wish you happy preserving days ahead.

– Sara x

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