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Heymanse

Mrs Ball's Chutney

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Heymanse

South Africans and expats alike love Mrs Ball's Chutney. Now Sarie magazine has discovered the history and the recipe of this culinary legend.

In the March 2004 edition of Sarie Magazine, writer André Le Roux uncovers the life story of Mrs. Ball and her secret chutney recipe. Here, with kind permission from Sarie, we let you in on the secret. For the full story and loads more wonderful reads, get the March 2004 edition of Sarie - on sale now.

Although Mrs. Ball’s chutney is considered to be a truly South African product, the recipe, in reality, comes from Canada.

The name chutney was adopted from a Hindi word in India, chatni, meaning 'made from fresh fruit and spices". In South Africa it's mainly used as a marinade and a sauce to accompany meat, curries and bobotie.

In 1865 Mrs. Ball was born as Amelia Alice Elizabeth Adkins in Fort Jackson, East London, the same town where her Canadian parents were stranded in 1852 on their way to Australia.

According to www.ballfamilyrecords.co.uk her father, Henry James Adkins, captain of the SS Quanza, and his wife, Sarah Spalding, left the coastal town, Nova Scotia in Canada for Australia. Although the boat was lost off the coast of East London, fortunately for future generations of South Africans, the captain, his wife and her chutney recipe survived.

It was here that their daughter, Amelia Adkins, was born thirteen years later. She married Herbert Saddleton Ball in Fort Jackson, and was thereafter known as Mrs. Ball.

Both Mrs. Ball and her sister, Florence (known as Aunt Flo) received the secret chutney recipe from their mother, who in turn got it from her mother. Aunt Flo also made the exact same chutney recipe - which she sold as Mrs. Adkins’ Chutney - the only difference being that almost no one bought it.

Edward Thomas Adkins Ball, Mrs. Ball’s grandson, explained to Sarie magazine that the difference in the recipes might have been in the sugar.

Mrs. Ball started making the chutney after she moved to Johannesburg with her husband and seven children. Her friends and family loved it so much that the business started blossoming on its own. The demand increased; Mrs Ball cooked and her husband bottled.

Home Industries started selling her chutney and by 1918 she sold about 24 bottles a day, which in the years to come grew to 8 000 bottles a day.

In 1921 the Ball family moved to Cape Town. After living in Kalk Bay and Diepriver they settled in Plumstead (where her husband took over the chutney cooking). He died in 1935 and she moved to Fish Hoek where she continued to make chutney in her backyard with the help of her grandson, "Uncle Bob". The business was later moved to Woodstock with twelve new workers.

In 1957/’58 Mrs Ball’s chutney was exported to England for the first time .

In the early seventies, Brooke Bond Oxo bought over the business, which was later sold to Unifoods. Still owned by them today, Mrs. Ball’s chutney is being made in Johannesburg and exported to Germany, Britain, New Zealand and Australia.

Mrs. Ball died on 20 November 1962 at the age of 97. Uncle Bob believes she would have lived to see 100 if she wasn’t attacked a few years earlier. Apparently three youths assaulted her for a small purse of money while she was sitting on the stoep of her house in Fish Hoek. They threw her to the ground, and, unable to get up by herself, she was found lying there sometime later.

She could not be buried next to her husband in Plumstead due to rising water levels. Instead she was buried in Muizenberg, where her grave can still be visited today.

Mrs. Ball’s secret recipe.

Edward Ball, Mrs. Ball’s grandson scaled down this original recipe to make 18 bottles of (mild) chutney.

612 g dried peaches

238 g dried apricots

3 litres brown wine vinegar

2 1/2 kg white sugar

500 g onions

120 g salt

75 g cayenne pepper

1 to 2 litres of brown wine vinegar for soaking

About 2 litres of brown wine vinegar for mixing

The fruit should be left in the soaking vinegar overnight, then cooked in the same vinegar until soft. Drain. Put the fruit through a mill. Add the sugar (dissolved) and onions (minced) and cook in a pot with the brown wine vinegar. The amount of vinegar depends on the consistency: it should not be too runny or too thick, but have the same consistency as the end product you find in the bottle. Add spices and cook for one to two hours. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon to prevent burning. Sterlise your bottles and spoon in the mixture. That's it - you've got Mrs Ball's Chutney.

To make the chutney hot, add 75 g chopped chillies.

To make peach chutney, omit the apricots and use 850 g dried peaches instead.

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It might sound like a bit of effort making your own chutney but then again, this will set me up for at least one year's supply of chutney. Taking into account how much just one bottle of chutney cost here in Australia, it might just be worthwile trying the recipe out.

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EricaC

Hi guys!

Wow, thanks for that fasinating read! what history!

I am sure there are 'the brave' who will try that recipe

me, I will drive to the South African shop and buy a bottle!!!

Thanks for sharing!!

Erica :ilikeit:

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Alibaba

You get Mrs Balls at Coles too.

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Heymanse

We used to get it at our local Coles shops (2 of them) as well, but not anymore. They haven't had the item back on their shelves for at least 7 - 8 months so I take it they're not going to return it to their shelves. What a pity though because I always seem to need it when I don't have any left in the pantry anymore and what would be nicer than to just pop down to your nearest Coles and get a couple of bottles - they also were cheaper than the ones I used to get at the South African shops here in Sydney.

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Michele R

Great story and thanks for the recipe!

Might even give it a try in the future (cooking and I don't really mix so well, lol)

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Biker

Long lives Mrs Balls!

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pingz
We used to get it at our local Coles shops (2 of them) as well, but not anymore. They haven't had the item back on their shelves for at least 7 - 8 months so I take it they're not going to return it to their shelves. What a pity though because I always seem to need it when I don't have any left in the pantry anymore and what would be nicer than to just pop down to your nearest Coles and get a couple of bottles - they also were cheaper than the ones I used to get at the South African shops here in Sydney.

I found some at David Jones in Bondi Junction for $6.50. :ilikeit: They had the original and peach variation!

Hope you find it at one close to you!

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GoldCoastGal

We made this a couple of years ago for my daughter's school project on 'pickling'. It was a huge success. Subsituted peaches for dried mangos and added heaps of chilli - it was awesome.

We also made it in one night (bad planning and project due) but it still turned out fine.

I would recommend you try it at least once! Make up a batch and give away as christmas pressies to your friends and colleagues...

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Annalize

Die resep is VERKEERD!!!

Dit moet wees 12ml salt and 7,5ml cayenne pepper............ dit moet ml's wees en nie gramme nie.

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Alida

Ek het 'Kook en Geniet' se appelkoos chutney gekook met perskes i.p.v. appelkose, dit was vinnig, maklik en kon baie goed kers vashou met Mrs. Balls - en dis sonder die preserveermiddels, het tog maklik 'n maand in die yskas gehou - 2L se chutney, ons het GEËET !!!

Dit was nou 'n lekker storie, dankie - sal bietjie die resep met myne vergelyk ...

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