South Africa is known for many dishes – the most iconic of all being
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The history of Mrs Balls Chutney
Mention Mrs Balls chutney to any South African and you will see their eyes immediately light up, and their mouths start to water.
It is the most delicious chutney, made with dried fruit, with a hint of chilli. It is used to add flavour to stews and curries, or served as a side dip with cold meat or pies.
There’s quite a bit of history around Mrs Balls Chutney. The story goes that a certain Mr and Mrs Adkins were on a ship sailing from Canada to South Africa back in the 1860s. While on the ship Mrs Adkins was given the recipe for chutney by one of the Indian chefs. Chutney is the anglicised version of the Hindu word ‘Chatni’, meaning a relish made with fruit and spices.
Once the family had settled back in South Africa, Mrs Adkins began making the chutney and it proved to be very popular amongst her friends and family. When her daughter, Amelia, got married to Mr Herbert Saddleton Ball, Mrs Adkins passed the recipe on to her, and Amelia cooked and sold the chutney to help with the family finances. She named her chutney Mrs H.S.Balls Chutney, using her husband’s initials as was the custom in those days. The chutney proved so popular that the business expanded, and was eventually passed on to Amelia’s sons, who ran the business until it was bought out by one of the big food manufacturers in South Africa.
Amelia Ball passed away in 1962 at the age of 97, leaving South African families everywhere the legacy of her amazing chutney.
I found a lovely video of an advert for Mrs Balls Chutney that I’d like to share
- Prep time – 15 minutes
- Soaking time – 12 hours
- Cooking time – 30 minutes
- Yield – 2 x 500ml jars
- Calories – 155 per 100 ml
- Main equipment – large saucepan with lid – I like these saucepans because they have non-metal handles.
How to make
Mrs Balls Chutney
The original recipe is a closely guarded secret. During my research on how to make it I’ve come across many variations.
Some people say you should make it with dried apricots, others say you should use dried peaches. Some say to soak the dried fruit in vinegar overnight, others say soak in water.
If you want to make the peach version then just substitute the dried apricots for dried peaches.
Anyway, I’ve come up with the recipe which I think is pretty close to the original taste. I’ve used a mixture of dried apricots, sultanas and onion, and even if it is not 100% authentic, I think it tastes pretty good.
What you will need to make chutney
**You can get the complete list of ingredients and full instructions for making this recipe on the printable recipe card at the end of this post**
This recipe makes approximately 500ml jars (or 1 litre) of chutney.
- Dried Apricots – you need to chop these to the size of sultanas
- Onions – chopped to the size of sultanas
- Sherry vinegar – or any ‘fruity’ vinegar – don’t use plain white or malted brown vinegar or the chutney will taste too acidic.
- White sugar
- Dried Chilli Flakes – you can adjust this quantity according to your own taste
How to make Mrs Balls Chutney
- Place the dried apricots and sultanas in a large bowl and cover with the vinegar. Cover and leave to stand overnight. This allows the fruit to plump up as the vinegar gets absorbed.
- Next day, blend the soaked fruit in a food processor (along with the soaking liquid). Don’t allow the apricots to become too finely chopped – you want them to be the same size as the sultanas.
- Tip the whole lot into a large saucepan (that has a lid).
- Use the food processor to chop the onions and add them the fruit in the saucepan.
- Once again, don’t chop too finely – keep them the same size as the chopped apricots.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil.
- Place the the lid on the pan, turn down the heat, and allow
tosimmer for at 30 to 45 minutes until the mixture becomes thick and syrupy.
- If it’s still not thick enough after this time, just simmer a bit longer. You are looking for the consistency of a nice sticky jam. Do remember however that the mixture will thicken on cooling.
- As with all recipes you need to taste and adjust the flavour as you go along.
- If you find the chutney is too acidic you can add a touch more sugar. If you want it hotter, add more chilli.
- This is quite a sweet chutney and the final result should be sweet and tangy.
- Pour into
jars and keep in your fridge until you are ready to use. This chutney improves with age, and will keep for weeks in the fridge. sterilised
A note on the chilli
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Other South African recipes
While you are here, why not try some of my other South African recipes:
- Bobotjie – a traditional Cape Malay dish of spicy curried mince beef baked in a savoury egg custard and served over rice.
- Lamb bredie – a delicious lamb stew made with succulent lamb ribs, cooked in a pressure cooker with vegetables
- Quick and easy beef Trinchado – tender strips of beef in a thick tomato and onion based sauce, spiced with garlic, peri-peri and red wine.
- Samosas with cheese and sweetcorn – a popular delicacy made with deep fried pastry stuffed with a mixture of curry-flavoured cheese and sweetcorn.
- Peri peri chicken livers – tasty chicken livers in a peri-peri flavoured tomato and onion sauce.
- Tomato jam – this is a cross between a jam and a chutney – delicious on sandwiches or served as part of a cheese board.
Update – I’ve just perfected my green tomato chutney recipe (which I think is even better than Mrs Balls 🙂 )
Recipe – Mrs Balls Chutney
Mrs Balls Chutney
(Click the stars to rate this recipe)
- Spatula for mixing
- Glass jars for storage
- 1 lb / 450 grams dried apricots finely chopped
- 8 ounce / 225 grams sultanas
- 1 lb / 450 grams onions finely chopped
- 1½ cups / 350 ml sherry vinegar
- 2 cups / 500 ml water
- 1⅓ cups / 250 grams white sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes more or less to your own taste
- Soak the apricots and sultanas overnight in the vinegar (about 12 hours).1 lb / 450 grams dried apricots, 8 ounce / 225 grams sultanas, 1½ cups / 350 ml sherry vinegar
- Tip it all into a food processor and blend until roughly chopped.
- Place the mixture in a large saucepan
- Finely chop the onion and add to the fruit1 lb / 450 grams onions
- Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well.2 cups / 500 ml water, 1⅓ cups / 250 grams white sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
- Bring to the boil then turn the heat down and put the lid on the saucepan
- Simmer for 30 – 45 minutes until the mixture is thick and syrupy. It will thicken further on cooling. See notes.
- Cool and pour into sterilised jars and store in the fridge.
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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