Cherry Ginger Chutney – Cherry Season is Short. Savor the Moment. Each Bite a Memory.
Most everyone who lives in Montana waits all year for Flathead cherry season. Throughout the state, Flathead cherries reign supreme. Memories are made from eating these luscious, large, dark, firm, meaty, juicy, and sweet with a touch of tart cherries. You definitely can’t eat just one.
My husband had one request from my recent trip to Flathead Lake. He asked me to bring back a lug (25 pounds) of the best cherries I could find. So my traveling friend Diana and I tasted cherries up the East side of the lake and down the West side of the lake, buying six bags of cherries along the way.
On our way home we found an orchard a mile south of Polson. We smiled and laughed at our good fortune. So exciting to tour the orchard and photograph the huge ripe and ripening clusters of deep red Lambert cherries.
With our desire for pictures fulfilled, we took a taste test. Wow, huge, ripe, delicious cherries. So I bought a lug of these dark beauties. My husband thrilled with his bounty. When he wasn’t home, I removed a few pounds of the cherries to replace rhubarb in a favorite chutney recipe. After a few tweaks and tries we have today’s recipe for deeply colored, richly flavored, and sweet with a touch of tart, Cherry Ginger Chutney.
A new way to pit cherries
Pitting cherries can be “the pits.” Tedious and messy, splattering cherry juice everywhere. I would cut around each cherry with a knife. Then I’d twist the two halves to reveal one pitted half and one half holding tight to the pit. Then with either the tip of a paring knife, the top of a vegetable peeler or even the large curve of a paper clip I’d carefully remove the pits.
But as of this past Sunday, pitting cherries has become both quicker and easier. I am now the proud owner of this six-cherries-at-a-time cherry pitter. Four cups of cherries (a pound and a third with pits) can be pitted in an unbelievable10 minutes. A few minutes more and the cherries were halved and in the pan.
A word of caution when you use this cherry pitter. Do check each cherry for their pit hanging out the bottom. Perhaps 5% of the pits don’t completely release from the cherry. Even with that, I love my new cherry pitter.
Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries
Perhaps Lew Brown was savoring a bowl of Flathead cherries when he wrote this song about life. The lyrics suggest that we savor the sweetness of each moment and live life to its fullest.
When you next eat a bowlful of Flathead cherries, or a bit of Cherry Ginger Chutney spooned over a slather of soft goat cheese on a piece of your favorite toast or cracker, savor the moment, as cherry season is short. Each bite a memory.
Cherry Ginger Chutney
Sweet and tangy, complex flavored Cherry Ginger Chutney lets you savor cherry season for months after you’ve eaten your last fresh cherry. As this is a chutney, do let it sit for at least a few days in the fridge before you enjoy it. This allows time for the mellowing of vinegar’s acidity. Thank you, Canal House ladies for inspiring this recipe.
Makes just over 2 cups Printer-Friendly Recipe
Total Time 1 hour
(The actual time depends on how long it takes you to pit the cherries.)
4 cups pitted dark, sweet cherries (about 1 ⅓ pounds with pits)
⅓ cup light, local honey
⅓ cup dried cranberries
⅓ cup plus 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ cup minced crystallized ginger
1 tablespoon drained capers
Large pinch red pepper flakes
2 twists freshly ground pepper
- Pit and halve the cherries.
- Add the cherries to a medium sauté pan along with all the remaining ingredients.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and transfer to storage containers. Cherry Ginger Chutney keeps refrigerated for a couple of months, or frozen it for up to a year.
- To mellow the sharpness of the vinegar, let Cherry Ginger Chutney sit for a few days in the refrigerator before enjoying it as a topping, spread, sauce or condiment.