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Cranberry-Pear Chutney (Juniper Berries)

Aromatic blue-black juniper berries, which come from a tree in the cypress family, impart a spicy evergreen flavor to this chutney, balanced by floral and woodsy notes. The chutney pairs well with most types of cheese, young or aged. Cow’s milk and aged sheep’s milk cheeses are good choices, but this tangy chutney is also superb served atop fresh ricotta or soft goat cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup minced white onion
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 Tbs. cider vinegar
  • 4 juniper berries
  • 1 Tbs. coarsely grated lemon zest
  • 1 Tbs. coarsely grated orange zest
  • 1 cinnamon stick, 1 1/2 inches long
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 bag fresh cranberries (about 3 cups)
  • 2 Bosc or other firm but ripe pears, peeled, halved, cored and cut into 1-inch cubes

Directions:

In a nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the onion, apple cider, orange juice, cider vinegar, juniper berries, lemon zest, orange zest, cinnamon stick and cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, 10 to 15 minutes.

Stir in the brown sugar until it dissolves, about 2 minutes. Add the cranberries and pears and return the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the flavors have blended, 20 to 30 minutes. The fruit will be quite soft.

Pour the chutney into a jar or bowl and stir with a fork, crushing some, but not all, of the fruit. Let cool completely before serving. The chutney can be tightly covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before serving. Makes 3 cups.

Adapted from a recipe by Williams-Sonoma.