Apple Date Chutney with Mulled Wine

I don't know about you, but the word "chutney" sounds fancy, and maybe a little pretentious.  I think that when I eat chutney, it's usually at a winery and paired with bread or crackers.

When hubby and I were on our mini getaway about a month ago, we went to a winery and we were served a locally made mango chutney.  It was delicious; it was sweet from the mangoes, but it was also sprinkled with red pepper flakes to give it a kick.  It had great flavor!

So, who makes chutney?

Well, now I do.  And you can too!  You can wow all of your holiday guests with a seemingly fancy chutney that takes no time at all!  

If you're inclined to canning, this would make a great canned gift!  (I'm not inclined, but I wish that I was.)  Just buy those small mason jars and you're in business.

Ingredients:
Adapted from Food In Jars

1 c. apple, peeled and chopped
1/3 c.  apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. medjool dates, pitted and chopped
2 T. dried fruit (I used a berry medley)
1 T. crystallized ginger, chopped
pinch of sea salt
pinch of red pepper flakes
pinch of cardamom
1 star anise
1 small cinnamon stick
1/4 c. mulled wine (learn more about infusing your own liquor!)

Directions:
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, combine the ingredients, except for the wine.

You want to cook the fruit down until it becomes soft and mushy.  Mine took about 20-30 minutes.  When it's about done, add your wine and continue to cook and reduce.  When you're ready to remove it from the heat, fish out the star anise and cinnamon stick.  Discard them.

At this point, once your chutney is done, you have a few options.  You can mush it down with a potato masher or you can puree it in the blender.  It just depends on how thick you want your chutney.  In my experience, you want it to be a little chunky.

Make sure that you give it a taste.  Decide if you want to make it sweeter (add sugar or maple syrup) or more savory (add chili powder, onion powder, etc.).  It's fun to experiment.

This recipe makes about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of chutney, a good size for a party.  If you are making it for gifts, this will only make about one small jar.  Double or triple the recipe to make a large amount.  Store it in the fridge for a day or two, or can it for gifts.

Cheers!
-Aileen