Green Bean Chutney: A Taste of My Childhood

Runner Beans, Unknown var

From One Generation to the Next

Every year I grow runner beans in my garden. I don’t know what variety they are, they were originally given to me by my father from seed that he saved from his garden. I have never bought runner beans, and subsequent generations of dad’s seeds have grown successfully across four different gardens/climates and in two different countries.

We always had runner beans, fresh from the garden, throughout the summer and early autumn months. I used to take them for granted, since they always came, no matter what the weather or growing conditions that year.

After I moved out of home, I only really got runner beans if I was visiting my parents. Back then, I tended to shop in supermarkets, and runner beans were not a popular supermarket choice, maybe because it is hard to get them to be completely uniform, like the Stepford style apples and tomatoes that they prefer to sell.

When I first started to get a veg box, I got some runners, to my delight. Just like Mum used to, I settled in to string and slice them. I was jolted by a powerful memory of Mum doing this, often in front of Last of the Summer Wine on a Sunday evening.

When large amounts of beans were being prepared, I always got a bit excited, because I knew that the next day she would make Green Bean Chutney.

Just as my Dad always grew our vegetables, Mum always made a lot of our food from scratch. Chutneys, pickles and jams were no exception. In fact, I didn’t have factory produced jam until I left home; and frankly, I found it wanting.

I have always loved Green Bean Chutney. I used to have it every day at school, and all of the other kids would say stuff like “eurgh, that’s gross” and “Why do you always have that yellow stuff in your sandwiches?”. I would smile at them, safe in the knowledge that they didn’t know what they were missing, and if they didn’t want to try any, then Mum would be less tempted to give some away.

Jars of Green Bean Chutney

Sandwich Filler

Now I am older, I make Green Bean Chutney for myself. The Big Guy is a total convert as well.

As you may have seen, I am a bit of a preserving addict, so I am always giving them as gifts to friends and relatives. Despite the fact that we grow extra runner beans, so that we can make this chutney, the Big Guy still severely rations the Green Bean, in order to keep more for himself.

If I am honest, I am a little loathe to give it away, too!

So, I thought that I would share the recipe for Green Bean Chutney with you, in the hope that you can make it for yourselves, and I get to keep all of the jars that I make!

So, here is my Mum’s Green Bean Chutney. She gave it to me, but I am not really sure where she got it from originally. Maybe she can let you know, by leaving her first ever blog comment – over to you Mum?

You can  also use French Beans in this recipe, or a mixture of both French and Runners. Next year, thanks to my Seedy Penpal, Charlotte, I am going to grow a few yard long beans too, so I shall be experimenting with those as well.

My bean harvest was a little late getting going this year, but hopefully you will still be able to find some beans to try it yourself.

Do  you have any food that evokes such strong childhood memories? I’d love to hear about them.

Green Bean Chutney, Cheese and Crackers

Super Match

Recipe: Green Bean Chutney


I have converted this recipe from imperial to metric

3-4 jam jars

700 g runner beans (or French or other green beans, or a mixture)

1 kg  onions

Cold water to cover

1 dstsp salt

350 g demerara sugar

600 ml malt vinegar (I can;t get malt vinegar over here, so I use 500 ml white wine vinegar and 100 ml balsamic)

1 dstsp turmeric

1 dstsp powdered English mustard

1 tbsp cornflour


Sterilise the jam jars in a dishwasher, or wash them in hot water, dry them and leave them in a low oven while you make the chutney. Either way, they will need to be hot when you put the chutney in it.

String and slice the beans (or use a stringless variety), making sure that they are roughly the same size – this is especially important if you use a mix of bean varieties.

Peel and thinly slice the onions. Add them to a preserving pan (or a heavy-bottomed stainless steel pan) with the beans, cover them in water, and add the salt. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until tender.

Strain the water, and return the vegetables to the pan. Add half of the vinegar and the sugar. Cook for a further 10 minutes.

Mix together the cornflour, spices and the rest of the vinegar, and mix to make sure there are no lumps. Pour this into the pan, with the vegetables.

Bring the chutney back up to the boil, and hold it there for a few minutes, until the mixture thickens. You need some liquid though, because this will stop it drying out in the jars.

Fill the hot jars with the chutney. Then distribute the liquid between the jars, so that they are full to about 3 mm from the top.

Put a wax disc, wax side down, over the chutney, and seal it with cellophane. Don’t use a lid, the vinegar will corrode the metal, and may leave you exposed to some nasty microbial activity.

Don’t discard any excess liquid, it is great in salad dressings.

You need to leave the chutney for a week to allow it to meld and mellow.

This is a brilliant accompaniment to cheese, cold meats, salads, and is a particular marvel with jacket potatoes, and bubble and squeak.

UPDATE: In a very timely way, I found out that Susan at A Little Bit of Heaven on A Plate is running a Home Made and Well Preserved competition. So I thought that I would share my lovely childhood chutney there too, and maybe win some spices (fingers crossed).



Filed under Farmed

37 responses to “Green Bean Chutney: A Taste of My Childhood

  1. Laura

    Wow, Mel, this sounds great!!!! I’m thrilled… I love beans and can’t wait to try it. What if I don’t have powdered mustard? Would you recommend to use mustard seeds? Or mustard from a jar? Still wondering how to get a wax disc, whatever that is… I’m totally new to the world of pickles (to preparing them that is)… Thanks for sharing this lovely idea and your memories.
    Food related autumn memories? Piroschki stuffed with potatoes, sauerkraut or apples. My Russian violine teacher’s wife used to make them and nobody else ever managed to even get close to imitating them – so good!!! Unfortunately, she kept the receipe top secret. Oh dear, what have you done to me I’ll be fantasizing about Larissa’s Piroschki for the rest of the day! 😉

    • Hi Laura,

      What great memories, and a good excuse to start experimenting with a recipe of your own 😉 Thank you for sharing them.

      You could certainly use made mustard, but a strong one, not a Dijon type. You could also use mustard seed, and a mix of yellow and black would be perfect. Made mustard is the seeds soaked in vinegar and crushed to a smooth paste, in any case. If you use made mustard, I would up it to a tablespoon.

      As for wax discs, I get them from high street shops, or my online brew shop. I’m not sure about where you are, but there are a number of online stores for this kind of thing.

      I hope you do make this, it really is special.

  2. lindasgarden

    Reblogged this on lindas- gardening journey and commented:
    sounds great

  3. lindasgarden

    great post Mel as soon as we moved i will be going to try this i made jam but not picles or chutney before

    • Thanks Linda. This chutney has much less chopping, shorter cooking time, and takes much less time to mature than most chutneys, so it is a great place to start. You can also use frozen beans, if that is what you have. Cook from frozen with the onions.
      Let me know how it goes.

  4. This sounds so nice and one I will have to make! Far nicer than my food nostalgia. My memories are mainly of my mum going through food phases, mainly Carob and Nut Roast (not together though). I can remember my mum’s excitement at the introduction of carob as a replacement for chocolate. My brother, sister and I were informed that carob not only looked like chocolate, but it tasted like chocolate, with none of the fat. Unfortunately only 2 of these statements were true. It DID look like chocolate, and indeed it DID have less fat, however it tasted like something I might find on my shoe. As for the nut roast, it tasted like a cross between pate and salted peanuts. Still, I love my mum and her enthusiasm for cooking is what I think made me fall in love with food, many years later.

    • Hehe! At least the kids at my school only thought that my food was awful hippy stuff 😉

      Still, at least we were both lucky enough to be brought up with a tradition of home cooking, and food preparation.

      I started cooking seriously at uni because I couldn’t afford to eat “packet food” and still go out with my rather better of friends. I also realised that I would be paying a lot of money for stuff that tasted worse than what I could produce at the end of the day.

      I got a very good grounding in watching my parents too.

  5. Green beans have never been one of my favourite vegetables BUT that chutney looks wonderful. I am thinking of growing some beans this year just for the chutney alone 🙂

    • It comes highly recommended, hundreds of school kids can definitely be wrong 😀

      • he-he…Joanna from Zeb Bakes just pointed me in the direction of this post and I didn’t realise I had already commented on it and was just about to laud it…looks like I am going to HAVE to make this now with a glowing recommendation like that! 🙂

      • Hello Narf 🙂
        Funnily, this has proved to be my most popular recipe of all time. It just goes to show that 60 odd school kids can be wrong!
        If you make it, and like it, please do share it around, my mum would be thrilled to know her chutney has gone as far afield as Tasmania.

      • It is winging its way over to Western Australia in an email today so she has conquered the Antipodes! 🙂

      • Oh, and if 50 school kids ate it then I should be able to coax Steve into trying it methinks! 😉

  6. I heard about making green beans chutney, but this is the first time I find the recipe. Thank you. You gave a few useful tips (canning is quite new to me!!). I didn’t know that you could use cornflour…

  7. That looks excellent ! I will bookmark your recipe for another year when I have a glut of beans. How long does it keep for with the cellophane covers as opposed to lids?

    • Well, I’ve never been able to keep it that long, because I love it so. It should be keep for a year. If you have loads and loads, then put recycled lids over the cellophane to stop dehydration, or you can buy special jam jar lids with rubber in them that won’t corrode.

  8. This sounds fabulous! A great way to use beans! Love it!

  9. i love making and eating runner bean chutney but alas there’s been no wooden spoon action in my kitchen this year. Looks divine with your cheddar chunks atop a Dr Karg cracker – feeling peckish now!

    • Hello Nic, I forgot that you love this one too.

      And good cracker recognition, they are Dr Karg’s Emmental and Pumkin Seed.

      I think that you have the best excuse for not having any wooden spoon action. It’s been a bad year for beans in general. But, the great thing about gardening is that there is always next year, and your wee one might be able to “help” you by next summer too 🙂

  10. I thought I had left a message here before, but I can’t see it! I just wanted to say what a wonderfully nostalgic recipe and how much this reminds me of my grandma who used to make a runner bean chutney every year! Thanks for sharing this traditional recipe Mel! Karen

  11. Now that takes me back to my childhood too – I loved runner bean chutney. I make it occasionally myself, but really ought to do more as there are always far more runner beans than we can keep up with. This year we grew a load just for the shelled beans, which are delicious, but the weather got the better of us and they all rotted on the vine 😦

    I’ve only seen yard long beans growing in Australia, good luck with them.

  12. I had to come over straight away as soon as I read your comment on my cheese, onion and potato pasties Mel! I LOVE recipes likes this, and I have bookmarked this to make myself soon, as haricots verts are in season in France right now. A fabulous post and it really resonated with me as I remember peeling small onions in front of the telly on Sunday with mum, for her pickled onions. I can’t wait to make this, Karen 🙂

  13. Morning! I have never done the seal with cellophane thing, I use vinegar proof lids when I make chutney but I have never made one with flour in it, so maybe it is the flour sauce that does something? How do you do the cellophane sealing, just put the circles on the top of the jar and then they melt/stick? How does it work? I have lots of ‘Trail of Tears’ beans right now so would love to give this a go to process some of them 🙂

    • Hello Joanna,

      You need to wet the cellophane, by brushing it over with a finger you’ve dipped in water. Then place over the jar, put a rubber band around it, and it will seal when it dries.

      My Mum always used cellophane, so I have always used cellophane. Rubberised lids are just as good, though so go with what you have 🙂

      • Just to say, for the record, that we made it last year and so good that B wept when it was finished, so have just made another batch with this year’s beans, and if anyone has a glut of beans and doesn’t know what to do with them, do send them round… 🙂

      • Hello Joanna!
        I’m so sorry that my reply is so late, but I am delighted to hear that you’ve made Green Bean Chutney again this year. We have it on constant rotation, I hope it becomes one of our annual makes too 🙂

  14. Pingback: Bean Chutney | Rocks, Waves, Beach

  15. Helen Woodhall

    I wanted to share with you another use I came up with for your delicious chutney. I had a lot of pastry trimmings left over from making a quiche and didn’t want to waste them so I cut out large circles of pastry and made some pasties – the filling was a spoonful of your chutney and a spoonful of grated cheddar. All melted together when cooked – delicious!
    Luckily I had enough beans to make lots of jars of chutney so I am looking forward to making some more cheese and chutney pasties!

    • Hello Helen,
      Thank you so much for getting in touch.I am really sorry that I haven’t got back to you before now. I had a bit of an online break, for a variety of borinng reasons.
      Anyway, I LOVE your cheese and chutney pasty idea. Thank you so much for sharing it with me. I often have spare pastry knocking about, and now I know what I’m going to try with the next lot. What a fantastic recipe.

  16. I made this recipe in the fall but processed it in a water bath for canning. Gave two pint jars to my mom and her beau for Christmas. They scarfed it down pretty quickly, saying it makes “a great side dish!” What?? I laugh every time I think of them eating it in such huge quantities. Received four pounds of beans this week and made another–this time I made sure to fill a couple quart-size jars to send to them. It’s a new family favorite. 🙂

    • Hello there!
      Thank you so much for stopping by to let me know that you have enjoyed my own family’s favourite. It’s amazing how far and wide this particular recipe has gone. I love that your mum has found a new use for it too, I’m sure we could probably eat it as a side too, we also love it that much.

  17. nick callaby

    hi all made this for the first time last week; 1and 1/2 times recipe and am now making the second batch as it wont last till next year !!!!! just to good. quite often give chutney for gifts but not this one !! mine all mine THANKS FOR FOR THE RECIPE

  18. Wow. Thank goodness some of the people who have posted comments have actually made this chutney !!
    I reckon I could put up anything and loads of people would say ‘that sounds great – I must try it’ !
    I have just made it. It needed rather more cornflour to thicken the sauce and I used shallots instead of onions.
    I will report back in a week or so

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