Fromage for dessert? Try my fragrant apple chutney with pink garlic and French gingerbread spices!

This year our humble, little apple tree surprised us with one of the most bountiful harvests ever. I was delighted, but at the same time slightly concerned about the young and still somewhat fragile tree as it bulged under the weight of its fruit. I feared some of its branches would snap, unable to handle such abundance. Upon our return from France in mid-August, we had no choice but to harvest the first few kilos of small, but very tasty apples. Many of them ended up in my Sunday bakes, even the bruised ones or those that were pre-sampled by nature while still dangling from the tree. If you cut around the unsightly bits, there’s still plenty of apple left to enjoy.

But truth be told: the last kilo remained untouched for at least two weeks. One can only handle so many apple bakes before pumpkin fever starts to beckon with dreams of spicy pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie. That, and the fact that we had feasted on our share of apples as snacks and were now giving preference to the plums, pears and figs that also come with fall. So I would look at the plate of apples on my kitchen counter, which were starting to lose their firmness and smooth skin, and hope that inspiration would finally strike.

And last Sunday, it did. Not for another cake, but for a fragrant chutney made with two very French ingredients: pink garlic (Ail Rose de Lautrec) and pain d’épices spices. An unexpectedly marvelous combination that resulted in the best chutney ever to come out of my kitchen. And I’m not just saying that to tempt you into making it. The French gingerbread spices added subtle warmth while just four cloves of pink garlic infused the chutney with its aromatically refined flavor — a world difference from the sharp, overpowering taste of regular garlic.
You can serve the chutney with cheese, as I did, but it will also pair exceptionally well with sandwiches and roast chicken or pork.

Makes 500ml


  • 450g roughly chopped, unpeeled apples
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 60g currants
  • 100g raw cane sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp French gingerbread (pain d’épices) spices
  • Pinch of chili
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 100ml balsamic vinegar
  • 4 cloves of pink garlic (Ail Rose de Lautrec), thinly sliced


Put all of the ingredients into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir well to combine. Cook on a medium heat for a few minutes before reducing to a simmer and cooking covered for 40 minutes, stirring every now and then. The chutney is done when it is thick and the apples have turned pulpy. Transfer to a sterilized jar immediately.