Pear Chutney

Image of a basket of pearsA well-made mango chutney is a thing of beauty. It must have chunks of mango to qualify and not be a sickly orange slurry (I could rant on about this for ages). It’s easy enough to make your own, but mangoes are expensive, unless you are lucky enough to stumble across a corner shop selling boxes of them dirt cheap. This never happens to me.

What we do have, though, are large numbers of pears. Why not, said my husband, make a pear version of mango chutney? Though the flavours are very different, they do share a similar texture and juiciness when cooked.

I didn’t want to make a classic English pear and ginger chutney, but instead, something spicier we could eat with a curry. This is what we came up with. I think it’s a winner.

Pear Chutney

  • Servings: makes approx 1.5 litres
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Image of jars of pear chutney


About 2.7 kilos of ripe but firm pears

700g light brown soft sugar

Zest and juice of one lemon, juice of a second

1 tspn cumin seeds

2 tspn coriander seeds

1 tspn chilli powder

12 green cardamom pods

1 tspn ground ginger

1 tspn ground cloves

1 tspn ground turmeric

3 tspn nigella (black onion) seeds

120g fresh root ginger

5 fat cloves of garlic, peeled

2 tspn sea salt

2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped

800 ml cider vinegar

Optional but recommended: 1-2 red chillies, thinly sliced


Fill a large bowl with cold water and add the juice of 1 lemon. Peel, quarter and core the pears, then cut them in half again lengthways so you have long slim slices. Drop them into the bowl of acidulated water as you go, so they don’t turn brown.

Drain the pears and return them to the empty bowl with the sugar and the zest and juice of the second lemon. Mix well, cover with cling film and leave for 6-8 hours or overnight for the juices to run.

Image of pears in their syrup

Crack the cardamom pods and extract the seeds. Place them in a small frying pan with the coriander seeds and cumin seeds and toast gently for a few minutes, stirring, until you can smell the waft of spices. Be careful not to burn them.

Pour them into a mortar with the ground ginger, ground cloves, turmeric and chilli powder. Grind until they are powdered. Peel the fresh ginger – the least wasteful way is to scrape it with a teaspoon – and grate finely. Crush the peeled garlic with the salt until it forms a paste.

Put the pears and their syrup into a large preserving pan and add the chopped onions, ground spices, the ginger and garlic and the whole nigella seeds. Pour in the vinegar, give it a stir and bring to a strong simmer.

Image of mixture ready to cook

Continue to simmer for about an hour and a half or until the pears are translucent and the mixture is thick enough that you get a furrow when you drag a wooden spoon along the bottom of the pan. Most of the liquid should have evaporated.

Image of pear chutney near completion

You’ll need to stir it often towards the end so it doesn’t stick and burn, but try not to break up the pears too much. If you want to crank up the heat a bit, add the fresh chillies 10 minutes before the end.

When it’s done, pour into warmed, sterilised jars and seal immediately with vinegar-proof plasticised lids. Store for at least two months before eating.

18 thoughts on “Pear Chutney

  1. Brilliant with a fitting cheese I imagine. Pears galore here, too. The only thing that bothers me about chutney is the “store at least for two months before eating”… That said, I think we have got a few jars of last years (two years, hrmph) somewhere in the back of the larder to tie us over.

    • I know, it’s torture sometimes. I always put the bit we can’t squeeze into a jar in a bowl in the fridge and eat it anyway. A taste of things to come. I think this would be good with a sharp, mature cheese but also with curries. Thanks, Nicole. Lxxx

      • That does sound good. I made one with lemon, tomato and courgette with mustard seeds and it is lovely. I have six giants in the fridge but not sure I can face doing anything with them anymore.

      • I sympathise. I did do a really nice stir-fry the other day, just chunked courgette dressed with lots of lemon and basil, chilli optional. I’ll just leave that thought there …

  2. Wish I weren’t so far behind reading everyone’s posts, Linda. I surely would have prepared this last weekend when I tried a new recipe for pickled pears. It truly sounds delicious and, as another mentioned, would be wonderful paired with cheese. Yum!

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