Mrs Balls Chutney, with a proud and profitable history dating back to the late 1800s, is a well-loved South African favourite of many as a fruity or fruity-pungent peach chutney that serves as a meal accompaniment to breakfasts, lunches and dinners. The chutney is a slightly sweet and spicy sauce made from apricots and peaches. It’s also an essential accompaniment to a good curry or braai, it’s great on cheese sandwiches for those favouring processed foods, and bobotie is unthinkable without it.
Atchaar and chutney making is very much a part of my culture – while many resort to store bought varieties, nothing tastes as good as the home made versions according to many family elders including my mom who passed on the art of atchaar making (pickling) lovingly and willingly as most mothers’ do when preparing their children in home life-skills and traditionally, preparing their daughters for their life-partners.
I have been making chutneys and sauces for a while now, but only recently included these in my Paleo lifestyle to add to the taste of home prepared food that lacks spice. I opt to add fresh chilli and spicy flavourings which enhance the taste of bland meals, making them more appealing to the taste buds but this is not often as most of my meals are pretty spicy on it’s own!
In making this chutney, the purpose was two fold, one as mentioned above and the second was to flavour the traditional Bobotie (a mince and egg custard baked dish, traditional to South Africa – recipe link is a dairy, gluten, grains and sugar free one) that I prepared after making this chutney. The regular Apricot and Peach chutney from which my chutney is adapted is cooked in vinegar and sugar, creating a sweet-sour-spicy thickened syrup in which the dried fruit is cooked. This recipe is slightly different in that I adapted it to include apricots, and cooked it in a combination of apple cider vinegar and water to tone down the sharp acidic taste of the cider vinegar. I included dates in the dried fruit mix as the sugar alternative. This chutney, once completed and left to stand for a while is a delightful combination of slow cooked fruit and spices which rivals the real sugar laden one. Again, this was another labour of love that I am proud to share with my blog readers.
Note that I made this chutney with eye-hand quantities as I am used to this method. The taste test at various stages helped me add flavourings as I preferred and I advise that you do the same, keeping in mind the base ingredients that add the required flavours. This recipe if for a large quantity (1 litre) and you may adjust this to suit your requirements.
350g dried apricots (sugar free)
2 apples (preferably tart ) chopped with skins on (skins contain pectin which helps in the thickening of the chutney and is a source of fibre too)
200g raisins or sultanas (sugar free)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic or equivalent in freshly ground garlic
150g pitted medjool dates
250ml apple cider vinegar
1 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 1/2 tsp Himalayan or Sea Salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Red chilli flakes
Green chilli / Habanero chilli as preferred
- Soak the dried apricots and peaches overnight with about half the quantity of the apple cider vinegar and water. This is according to your preference and how favour the chutney to taste.
- The following morning , soak the medjool dates in water for about half to one hour, remove the dried fruit from the water (keep the cider vinger and water mix aside) and add it to a food processor or blender together with the dates (water removed and kept aside),raisins or sultanas, onion, garlic, apple and blend to the consistency you desire.
- Once processed, empty the mixture into a large non-stick pot, add the waters that you have kept aside from the dried fruit and dates along with the remain apple cider vinegar and water as per the recipe. Note that you may top up as required.
- Add in the rest of the ingredients and boil, uncovered until the chutney is thick, stirring occasionally.
- Allow to cool slightly, bottle and seal the bottle with the lid immediately. Once cooled totally, you may store in the refrigerator. This chutney should store well for about 3-4 weeks, noting that if you are using a spoon to serve, the spoon should always be dry.