What Is Cranberry Orange Chutney?

M.C. Huguelet

Cranberry orange chutney is a type of relish or sauce made by cooking cranberries and fresh or candied oranges with a mixture of spices, seasonings, and vegetables as well as an acidic liquid, usually vinegar. It is a Western take on the chutneys which are a central facet of some Asian cuisines. Unlike traditional cranberry sauce, the flavor of cranberry orange chutney is simultaneously sweet and savory, making it a pleasant complement to many different kinds of food. As a result, cranberry orange chutney has many possible uses, potentially serving as an appetizer, a poultry glaze, a condiment or sandwich spread, and even as part of a dessert cheese board.

Duck legs with a cranberry orange chutney.
Duck legs with a cranberry orange chutney.

Despite the fact that many Western diners are familiar with chutneys, the sauce is in fact an adaptation of the chutneys which are a key component of some Asian cuisines, particularly in India and Pakistan. In these countries, chutney is a very broad term that can refer to a huge variety of sweet and sour relishes which may be either preserved or fresh, and which may be served as part of an appetizer or presented as a condiment for a main dish. Some of the most popular varieties of chutney found in Indian and Pakistani cuisine include tamarind, mint, and onion.

Fresh orange pieces are used to make cranberry orange chutney.
Fresh orange pieces are used to make cranberry orange chutney.

To make cranberry orange chutney, fresh cranberries and fresh or candied orange pieces are combined in a saucepan with spices and seasonings like brown sugar, ginger, and cinnamon. Chopped red onions and raisins may also be added to this mixture. Next, an acidic liquid, often apple cider vinegar, is stirred into the dry ingredients, and the mixture is simmered until the cranberries burst and begin to break down, creating a thick sauce. This process usually takes approximately 20 minutes. After the desired consistency has been reached, the chutney can be cooled and served, or transferred to canning jars for later use.

The simultaneously sweet and savory flavors of cranberry orange chutney make it a pleasant accompaniment to many different foods. When presented alongside wholegrain crackers or a sliced, toasted baguette, it can serve as an appetizer. It can also be used to glaze poultry, such as turkey or duck, during cooking, or can be set on the dining table alongside other condiments. Some people enjoy spreading cranberry orange chutney on sandwiches, similar to the way pickle relish or traditional cranberry sauce might be used. Finally, many find that the flavor of cranberry orange chutney works well with both mild, soft cheeses like brie as well as more aggressive, sturdier ones like aged cheddar.

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