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The Real Story behind Mrs H.S. Ball’s Chutney

Mrs. Balls Chutney is an original South African favourite, with perfect all-round use and found in almost every South African household.

Rumour has it Mrs H.S. Ball’s Chutney originated in Canada and was brought to South Africa aboard the SS Quanza that was shipwrecked off the coast of East London, South Africa. As interesting as this may sound it is a little far from the truth.

In 1852, Mr Henry James Adkins, a retailer in East London (who incidentally bought the shipwreck for recycling) married Elizabeth Sarah Spalding, they settled in Fort Jackson and ran a general store.

In 1870 Sarah Adkins started making chutney which quickly became a popular condiment amongst the locals. It was initially named, “Mrs Henry Adkins Senior, Colonial Chutney Manufacturer, Fort Jackson, Cape Colony.”

Although Sarah Adkins had the skills to create a delicious chutney she did not have the skills to market her brand. It was actually her daughter, Amelia who took the brand to the next level.

In 1886 Amelia Adkins married Herbert Ball in East London. They moved to Johannesburg, taking her mother’s famous chutney recipe with her. By 1914, Amelia had perfected the recipe and it had become a popular bottled condiment at church bazaars and markets, Mrs H.S. Ball’s Chutney.

In 1921 the Ball family had moved to Cape Town, Fish Hoek where Amelia continued to make and bottle her chutney. Her husband would take a few bottles a day to sell in Cape Town, it is here he met Fred Metter, a food exporter who took on the marketing and sales of the brand.

In a short time, they outgrew their premises in Fish Hoek and moved to larger factories in Deep River and later in Retreat.

In 1957, the chutney was exported to the UK for the first time. Over the years the business was sold to Brooke Bonds OXO then later to Unilver. Now owned by Tiger Brands it is a global brand distributed all over Africa, the UK, Germany, Australia and New Zealand.

Although there are 5 different flavours, Mrs H.S. Ball’s Original remains the favourite.

At £2.25 a bottle, it gets a 4.5-star rating from Tesco shoppers, you’ll find it at Sainsbury’s too.

Picture: Facebook / Mrs Ball’s Chutney

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