Quick Pear Chutney, a Great Appetizer Topping for Brie Cheese


Quick Pear Chutney, a Great Appetizer Topping for Brie Cheese



As autumn approaches, fresh pears are readily available. Here’s an easy and economical pear chutney that makes a delightful topping for Brie cheese or Mexican-style Queso Fresco (“fresh cheese”) for an appetizer. The chutney also goes well over goat cheese. Alternatively, it can be spread lightly as a condiment on meat or cheese sandwiches. Despite going well with cheese or meats, the chutney itself is completely plant-based.


“Chutney” comes from the Hindi word “chatni,” which in turns derives from a Hindi verb meaning “to eat with appetite.” Savory condiments have been part of the cuisines of the Indian Subcontinent for over two millennia. Chutneys, especially those made of spiced fruits, along with their name, came to Great Britain from India early in the colonial period.     


The recipe makes about one cup, enough for topping two 8-ounce round cheeses for appetizer use. The chutney will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.


2 large or 3 medium pears, such as Bosc, Anjou or Bartlett

1 green onion, white and green parts, or a small piece of regular onion

4 teaspoons cider vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/8 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 large pinch dry ground ginger, or 1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 large pinch ground cloves

1 small pinch cayenne


Peel pears. On a cutting board, cut them lengthwise into quarters. Cut out their cores and seeds. Coarsely chop the pear flesh and place it in a small enamel or stainless steel (not aluminum or cast iron) pot. On the cutting board, cut off the roots and any dried tip ends of the green onion (or use a bit cut off from a regular onion). Chop the onion very finely. Add this to the pears, along with all the remaining ingredients.


Turn on heat to medium low, stir the ingredients, and cover the pot. Simmer the mixture, covered, in its own juices, stirring every minute or two, until pear is fairly tender, 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Taste, to check the seasonings. Add a little salt, sugar, and/or vinegar, if necessary, to reach the desired taste.


Let the chutney rest at least several hours before use so that the flavors mingle. It can be served now or can be stored in a covered jar for several weeks in the refrigerator. 


Pear chutney compliments a variety of soft cheeses on the buffet or appetizer table, accompanied by low-salt crackers, like “water crackers,” or Melba toast. Let the cheese round or wedge come to room temperature before topping with chutney.

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