Pawpaw Chutney: the Tangy Condiment Major Grey Wishes He’d Invented

Pawpaw chutney with goat cheese

Pawpaw chutney and creamy goat cheese on grilled toast points

We’ve been looking for a good pawpaw chutney recipe for a long, long time. As large, sweet and tasty as it is, the North American fruit with the scientific appellation Asimina triloba would seem to be the perfect candidate for the tangy and spicy Indian condiment. Sure enough, a quick internet search will turn up many likely recipe candidates, but a closer read will reveal most of them to actually be papaya chutneys (apparently, the word “pawpaw” is synonymous for papaya in the land down under, Australia).

What’s a pawpaw lover to do when Mother Nature provides too many pawpaws? See, the thing about pawpaws is that they all seem to ripen at once. Sure, we can eat fresh pawpaws until the cows come home, but winter is coming and it would be nice to preserve a taste of summer for the long, cold months that lie ahead. Game of Thrones references aside, we decided to come up with our very own pawpaw chutney recipe, loosely based on a famous condiment said to have been created by a certain British Major, surname of Grey. While the Major was, in all likelihood, purely mythical, the chutney that bears his name is a winner.

After a little research and some experimentation, we devised a recipe that bears a strong resemblance to the original, but also allows the distinctive flavor and texture of the pawpaw to shine through. Like its inspiration, our pawpaw chutney has plenty of gingery bite and vinegary tang, with a spicy backnote from crushed chiles and black pepper.

This all purpose condiment is outstanding with all manner of grilled and roasted meats and poultry. Fantastic with cheeses, both sharp and mild, pawpaw chutney makes a great spread on sandwiches too.

And as for the mysterious Major Grey? Perhaps an obscure limerick attributed to John F. Mackay sums it up best.

All things chickeney and mutt’ny
Taste better far when served with chutney.
This is the mystery eternal: Why didn’t Major Grey make colonel?

Ripe pawpaw for chutney

Pawpaw Chutney

While we usually recommend that pawpaws be ripened to near squishy softness before eating, this recipe works best if the pawpaw is a little less than perfectly ripe.  While it will still taste of exotic tropical fruit, the slightly firmer consistency will hold up better with the long, slow cooking that this chutney requires.

  • 2 large pawpaws, slightly underripe, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped ginger
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp crushed chiles
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stick cinnamon
Pawpaw chutney

Luscious pawpaw chutney

Combine all ingredients in a large non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low.

Simmer, stirring frequently to make sure the bottom does not stick. Add a little water if it becomes thick too quickly. Continue to cook until the chutney has reduced in volume and is very thick, about 1 1/2 hours.

When done, spoon the chutney into clean jars or storage containers and refrigerate. The chutney will last for several weeks in the fridge; for long term storage, put hot chutney into sterile jars, top with clean lids & rings and process according to safe standard canning procedures.


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