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Cider vinegar (Recipe: dried cranberry and pear chutney)

Cranberry chutney

Ten things I know about cider vinegar (you'll be glad to know them, too):

Cider vinegar


  1. Cider vinegar is made from the fermented juice of apples, diluted with water to a uniform strength of 5% acidity.
  2. American farmers in the 18th and 19th centuries drank apple cider vinegar as a kind of Gatorade, for an energy boost. They would dilute it with fruit juice, and the "cocktail" was known as a switchel.
  3. Although cider vinegar is quite inexpensive now, because of its versatility it was highly valued as a unit of currency in the 19th century, when it sold for three times the price of apple cider.
  4. Artisanal vinegar is darker in color, but not always better in flavor, than supermarket cider vinegar. It is, however, always more expensive than the vinegar I buy in my local market.
  5. The vinegar is fermented in a long process that generates a "mother", a bacterial ooze that forms on the top of vinegar as it ferments. Commerial processing filters out the mother.
  6. Some people love the ooze and believe the bacteria found in it aid in the treatment of a variety of ailments from A to Z. Can it cure acid reflux or athlete's foot or zits? Maybe. Buy vinegar with its mother in health food stores.
  7. Or, you can make cider vinegar at home, but don't use it for canning; the acidity of homemade vinegars varies, and you need a reliably high acidity for safe food preservation. Use your homemade cider vinegar in salad dressings and to brighten up fruit-based sauces.
  8. Cider vinegar adds a mildly tangy fruitiness to chili and apple cider vinegar pork, cider roasted vegetables, bacon jam, vegan blueberry muffins, easy pickled carrots, and Moroccan-style chicken and lentils.
  9. Substitute rice vinegar (regular or seasoned) or brown rice vinegar for cider vinegar.
  10. Unopened, cider vinegar will last on your pantry shelf forever. Opened bottles of vinegar will keep for six months or more.

Cranberry pear chutney

Dried cranberry and pear chutney

This year's cranberry harvest hasn't yet hit the markets, even here in southeastern New England where cranberry bogs are everywhere, so I used dried cranberries to make this batch of chutney. Chutney is a great substitute for cranberry sauce on the Thanksgiving table, so make it in the next few weeks, when pears are in season. It will keep until Thanksgiving, and beyond, or it will be delicious for Canadian Thanksgiving next weekend. Makes 2 quarts.


1 large onion, chopped
3 Tbsp minced fresh ginger, or 1 heaping Tbsp dried ginger
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Scant 3/4 cup sugar (use a full 3/4 cup if you use fresh cranberries, less if you use dried)
3/4 cup orange juice
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp each: cinnamon, ground coriander, pepper
1/4 tsp each: mace or nutmeg, ground cloves, salt
several drops of cayenne pepper, to taste
4 large pears, diced (do not peel)
2 bags (12 oz each) fresh cranberries, or 12 oz (total) dried cranberries


In a large nonreactive saucepan, combine all ingredients except the fruit. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. 

Add the pears, and cook until soft but not disintegrated, 5-8 minutes, depending on the firmness of the pears. Add the cranberries, and cook, stirring frequently, over low-medium heat until the mixture has the consistency of thick jam (at least another 20-30 minutes). 

Let cool to room temperature, pack into jars with close-fitting caps, and refrigerate. Will keep for three months or more in the refrigerator. 

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Tomato-nectarine chutney
Refrigerator zucchini pickles
Rhubarb-apricot chutney
Cucumber ribbon salad

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


That chutney looks fabulous...I could see it replacing cranberry sauce on the Thanksgiving table.

Another fact about cider vinegar in its pure form is it's an aid to weight reduction/maintenance. True. I take cider vinegar tablets for one of the health benefits attributed to it and noticed in the interim that it was helping keep my weight in check.

I even started preferring it over balsamic for my salads. I just put a garlic clove in and let it flavor the vinegar.

This Chutney is beautiful. Thanks, Lydia! Now I feel ready for Fall!

This does look lovely. Perfect for Thanksgiving, you're right!

We love chutney and always have it with the turkey -- and cranberry sauce, TOO.

I LOVE LOVE all things vinegar!! thanks for a great recipe.

I make a chutney like this -- the seasonings are so versatile, I use apples and raisins, but what you have looks great too!

I love chutney, especially on pork. I have to trees full of pears so I had better get to work on this recipe!

I adore cider vinegar! I even eat it by the spoonful, and have since I was a kid. For us, it was the ONLY vinegar. Our salads were simple: lettuce, oil and cider vinegar with a little salt and pepper.
We always used Heinz at home, but I have since discovered a cider vinegar that is way more flavorful but not as easy to get: Musselman's (like the applesauce). We now get it in gallon containers at a store in Quarryville, Pennsylvania, where they have lots of good Pennsylvania Dutch things. It's also available through Musselman's website. With my Paesano extra virgin olive oil from Italy, it makes the best salad dressing (way more complex than my mother's, since I add lots of herbs and spices.)
I also learned that having a spoonful of vinegar before a meal helps keep blood sugar from spiking. Good taste and good health!

What great information on vinegar, I never knew that people drank it like gatorade, how interesting! What a great recipe for the holidays, looks so delicious!

My mouth kind of puckers at the thought of drinking cider vinegar for an energy boost!

It's true. I've used apple cider vinegar tonic (a tablespoon stirred into water with honey) to fight colds. I love the taste.

In gluten-free baking, apple cider vinegar helps vegan recipes rise without eggs and preserves the baked goods with a touch of acidity. And I like the tang, too; I admit.

Great post, Lydia!

That chutney looks delicious! I am so looking forward to turkey day.
Like you I like to celebrate Canadian and American Thanksgiving - twice the celebration is always better!
I have a new book called Wild Fermentations, I haven't made anything out of it yet - but it does have some intriguing recipes for vinegar. One day soon I will try it.

This sounds great! I didn't know you celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving but now I want to - Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I wish I could celebrate twice :)

I buy big huge jugs of apple cider vinegar. I use it in everything!

I didn't drink vinegar, either, until I moved to Seoul. Here you can get blueberry and pomegranate vinegar as well.

The little vinegar drinks here are pretty tasty. I imagine some people might enjoy the carbonation that's added to some of them.

Joan, I've heard that about cider and weight loss, but I'm always careful not to include medical info in my posts without qualification, so thanks for bringing it up here in the comments. What I am sure of is how good it tastes!

Candy, Alta, Mae, Carol, Julia: Chutney always wins out over cranberry sauce on our Thanksgiving table. I think I was scarred for life by the cranberry sauce that slithers out of a can when I was a kid.

Janel, I'm not a pork eater, but I've heard it's a delicious combination.

Deb, I'm off to find Quarryville on a map -- sounds like a field trip might be in order! Thanks for the info about vinegar and blood sugar, too.

Southern Grace, TW: See Hanna's comment below. People definitely still drink vinegar, though I can't imagine doing it without something to modify the acidity a bit.

Karina, thanks for the great info about gluten-free baking and vinegar. So good to know.

Natashya, we are a two-Thanksgiving household!

Maris, Canadian Thanksgiving is on our Columbus Day, and you can definitely celebrate it. I will make you an honorary Canadian for the day!

Pam, what else do you do with all that vinegar? I'm always looking for new recipes.

Hanna, that's new info to me. I'm looking forward to visiting Korea some day soon.

Oh my, I think I keep my opened vinegar for longer than that. :S Good to know the shelf life.

Chutney looks good.

Lydia, I love this post! I'm a huge cranberry fan, and love any type of chutney. I am going to whip this up and give it out as hostess gifts over the holidays. Thanks for the great post!

This looks fantastic! I just finished reading some of your Brazilian cuisine posts and then coming to this one, I have to say it is the perfect example why every location in this world has it's positives. :) The fruit in Brazil has been great, but oh how i've missed cranberries. I'm in a smaller city in the south and they don't exist here. Not sure if they've started importing them to the bigger cities yet or not. I'm looking forward to making these kinds of recipes again.

I had no idea...thanks for that info!

The chutney look delicious!

I've got 4 gallons of apple cider brewing in my cabinet right now. I love making my own, I used it for canning, I just test the acidity of it. It's usually more acidic than store bought I have found.

There was a time period when I was growing up, when my grandma would make a drink out of homemade apple cider vinegar, water and honey. I can't remember what is was good for. She did not make the apple cider vinegar herself, it was made by someone else we knew. Where I grew up, there was a time when almost everything was homemade because there was no other way to get it.

Aside from the OJ, I have all these ingredients in the house, and almost always do (pears may be in and out).

Peabody, vinegar is a natural preservative, so it will probably be just fine for longer in your pantry. Whenever I give estimates of shelf life, I always give the most conservative length of time.

Jason, if you're going to give this for holiday gifts, make sure to keep it in the refrigerator, or process in a water bath.

Lori, wish I'd known -- I brought some dried cranberries to Brazil for my friend Patricia of Technicolor Kitchen. Would have been happy to bring some for you, too.

Bridget, with the pears and cranberries, this chutney is oh-so-New-England!

Chiot's Run, four gallons? Oh my! I'll bet it's delicious.

Raluca, that actually sounds delicious. I wonder if it was used to keep colds at bay.

Jessica, this chutney came about because I didn't have many of my usual chutney ingredients, so substitute at will -- you're sure to come up with a chutney that's even more delicious than this one.

I would love this on a turkey sandwich!!

You know.... I've never made a chutney

Lydia, The only dried cranberries I can ever find are sweetened, like Craisins. Is this what you use or can you find non sweetened dried cranberries?

Gotta love that bacterial ooze! I just got a big bag of dried cranberries at Costco and some nice pears from my CSA so this is on my list of things to make this weekend. Thanks for a great recipe!

I made this with apples last week, and it's fantastic! lots of grilled cheese and chutney sandwiches in my future :)

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