slow cooker wild apple chutney

Out for a hike along the Bruce Trail near Lion’s Head, in a tangle of wildflowers, and birch trees, and short, gnarled, thousand-year-old eastern white cedars, we fall upon an old, long forgotten apple orchard. The apple trees have grown wild. Some of them are stunted by the patchy, shallow earth they’re growing in, amidst all the limestone outcroppings. The trees are laden, heavy with fruit. The apples are shades of dark red and gold, soft green and pale yellow, some mottled, some picture-perfect. The sky above is a deep, heavenly blue, almost too perfect to be real. It’s an unbelievable bounty – a portrait of pure, wild joy.

I’m with a friend. We go from tree to tree – tasting apples – calling out, “Oooh, taste this one – so sweet!” or, “So tart!” or, “Hard as a rock!” One tastes like pears. One has beautiful, mottled, red flesh. Others we know, like McIntosh. Some we spit out.

Perhaps it’s the connection with the natural world. Or the beauty of the early autumn day, but foraging, it seems, is good for the soul. We come away with two full bags of small, wild apples and a lavish dose of happiness. A gift from the trees planted long ago by settlers or farmers who tried to work this rocky land – a small, tenuous connection to an unknown history.

This recipe would be wonderful and much easier made with any good, commercial cooking apples. The small wild apples require a lot of peeling and cutting. But there’s such satisfaction in using them. Next up will be a wild apple tart. The beauty of this recipe is that you can throw everything in the slow cooker and leave it alone for a few hours to let the chutney make itself. A lovely little bit of kitchen magic.

Wild Apple Chutney

  • Difficulty: easy
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200 ml apple cider vinegar
50 ml balsamic vinegar
200 grams (1 cup) of dark brown sugar (such as turbinado, Demerara, or muscovado, etc.)
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chipotle powder
850 grams of prepared, chopped, peeled, cooking apples
80 grams of sultana raisins
2 medium onions, diced



1. Add the vinegars, sugar, spices, and salt to the slow cooker and stir to mix.

2. Add the apples, onions, and sultanas.

3. Turn the slow cooker to high and cook for four to six hours, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is cooked and the chutney is a thick jam like consistency.

4. Transfer hot chutney to sterilized jars and seal. Use the hot water bath technique to process safely.  If you need a primer on using the hot water bath technique there is a good one here.  I’m always nervous about home canning so I tend to refrigerate all my preserves but especially ones where the sugar to fruit ratio is low.  I would recommend keeping this chutney in the refrigerator and using it within 5-6 months of making it. Once a bottle is opened, it should be returned to the refrigerator and used within a couple of weeks.

Serve the chutney with sharp cheddar and a hearty loaf of bread; or a charcuterie platter; or roast pork tenderloin; with some good pork sausages; as an accompaniment to a curry; or alongside a pork tourtiere.


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