Blueberry Chutney

When people think of blueberries and New England, they often think of Maine wild blueberries; perhaps, as they should. It’s the stuff of legend, and in this case, food legend.

But don’t tell them Mainers (I absolutely adore Maine. I’d even live there and pay their asinine taxes) that we here in NH can grow our own decadent wild blueberries, and some kick-ass varieties of high-bush blueberries, as well. But likely in parts of Maine, high-bush is the equivalent of a nasty four letter word.

Blueberries don’t know borders. Just sayin’.

It’s blueberry season round these parts o’ the great state of NH, and I’m looking for anything that will use up LOADS of blueberries. Years ago (July 2008), I stumbled across this recipe for Wild NH Blueberry Chutney in NH Magazine, and it used up 4 whole cups of blueberries, so I was pretty sold on it from the word go.

As I read the recipe, though, I was saddened to note that this wasn’t a canning recipe; it was a store in the fridge kinda deal. But then I did some reading on acids and canning, and I thought Hmmmm, there’s enough vinegar and lemon juice in here so I canned a batch and took my chances with botulism and my own life. After a few months, I popped the lid, took a good whiff, my family ate the whole jar at dinner, and we are all alive – year after year that I make this – to tell you that you can indeed can this recipe. Just boil bath it for 10-15 minutes or save yourself the mess and do the baking method I’ve told you about in any number of my other jam recipes: Grapefruit Marmalade, Cranberry Marmalade, etc, etc (yes, those 2 etcs are other jamming recipes).

We can also argue the finer points wild vs cultivated blueberries, I am also here to tell you this recipe is delicious made with all cultivated high-bush NH blueberries. No one has ever said, OMG, I cannot believe you didn’t make this with Maine wild blueberries. I can sooooo taste the difference with these wretched NH high-bush balls of yick.

Pretty sure all I’ve ever heard was simply YYYUUUUUMMMM or OMG, you’re the absolute best! I LOVE THIS STUFF (and, of course, me, by proxy because I made this jar of goodness).

Here’s the recipe  from Chef Steve James, who is a Certified Master Baker and managing partner with Popovers on the Square in Portsmouth – or at least he was in July of 2008 when this story ran.

Wild N.H. Blueberry Chutney

(or cultivated high-bush. No judgement)

  • 4 cups wild N.H. blueberries. Or cultivated high bush. I don’t judge.
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup minced onions
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • red pepper flakes optional
  1. Combine all ingredients in a heavy-bottom pot and slowly bring to a simmer.
  2. Let simmer for about 50 minutes and store in glass jars.

The chutney will keep about 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Believe me, it won’t be around that long once you get a taste of this.

My Thoughts After Making & Canning:

Let me continue with the instructions from above:

3. Or, as I did, can the stuff, and save it for some shitty icy day in the dead of winter when all you’re wishing for are the dog days of summer. This recipe will take you back. I promise. It’s dee-vine on pork tenderloin.

  • I will also say, can at your own risk. I can this recipe every year and give it as gifts throughout the year, and no one – let me repeat, no one – has died from this or any other recipe I’ve ever made and canned.

I respect you if you don’t believe me. I’ll simply say we agree to disagree on the safety of the canning aspect. Especially since I met a woman who felt so badly for her nephew and his platoon stationed overseas in the desert that she made spaghetti sauce, mixed it with the noodles, baked it in 1/2 gallon jars in the oven to can and seal it, and sent it overseas into the worst heat in the world.

That whole platoon snarfed it down and lives to tell you that woman is a goddess among women…seriously, she canned homemade spaghetti sauce and noodles and shipped it to our men overseas. God bless this woman and America.

I’m not the FDA, and I ain’t no scientific source – how eloquent of me, I know.

I’m just a gal in NH who consistently likes to break every rule in the cooking book.

  • Now, what, you may ask, does blueberry chutney go with?
  1. crackers and soft cheese
  2. pork, especially pork tenderloin
  3. duck
  4. chicken
  5. fish
  6. on a sandwich as a spread with any of the above meat
  7. anything you want it to go with

Seriously, this stuff is AH-MAZING.

  • This is kinda a dump and go watch TV recipe. Just come back during the commercials and stir occasionally.

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  • Blueberries and onions are indeed a unique combo, but give it about an hour. A certain magic happens.
  • Add the red pepper flakes to your liking – it gives it a subtle bite. I add literally just a tiny pinch. Never regret it.
  • Please know that your house will smell to high hell of vinegar and onions, but the end result is worth it.

I’m personally screwed in this arena at the moment. At the very moment that I am typing this, my house REEKS of that smell, and the forecast is for more heat and humidity…WTF. I moved from the mid-Atlantic region to get away from this shit. Whatever. I’ll have blueberry chutney in the dead of winter, and I can air my house out on a crisp Fall day.

  • Make sure you keep pushing all those onion bits down into the sauce. The last thing you want is a raw onion in this mixture, and the much of the onion will dissolve into the mixture.

An hour later, you have savory blueberry heaven:

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To Can or Not to Can? THAT is the Question.

I’m gonna give you one guess where these jars are headed. Hint: not the fridge.

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I doubled this batch – YAS!! 8 cups of blueberries dealt with! It’s easy to make a double batch in a 7-9 qt pot.

Double bonus, this is a simmer recipe, so there isn’t any real splatter! Booyah.

Maine blueberry image credit, hands holding blueberries image credit

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