Wednesday, November 14

Pumpkin chutney. (Really. Actual chutney. Not a figure of speech.)

I know what you're thinking: this intermittent political ranting is all very well, but how do I go about making a truly superb condiment? Well, this is your lucky day. Here is my family's pumpkin chutney recipe. It is excellent.

Firstly, for those of you who don't know how to make chutney, it's easy. Whereas jam requires a certain carefulness with the order in which things go into the pot and with judging exactly the right point to take the stuff off the heat just before it crystalizes, chutney just involves chucking everything into a big pot and boiling it down until it looks like chutney. There are no doubt some more detailed instructions elsewhere on the Web, but it really is simple stuff.

Ingredients:

a 2.5 lb pumpkin (that's weighed whole, with the stem and seeds)
1 lb peeled tomatoes (tinned are fine)
1.5 lb onions
2 oz sultanas
0.75 lb dark brown sugar
0.75 lb caster sugar
2 tsp ground ginger or about 1 inch of root ginger
2 tsp black pepper or black peppercorns
2 tsp allspice berries
2 cloves garlic
1.25 pints cider vinegar

Obviously, you can adjust the amounts for a different size of pumpkin using the wonder of arithmetic. The amounts of spices are of course to taste. I think I typically put in quite a bit more ginger than the recipe calls for, but I couldn't tell you how much, exactly.

Method:

Peel the pumpkin and remove the seeds and the stringy crap around the seeds. Chop the pulp in to a good mixture of small and large chunks. The end result should be a lot like a mango chutney, with some nice big slices of chewy preserved fruit in it.

Slice the onions.

You can use fresh tomatoes and go to the bother of peeling them if you like, but, really, life's too short. I've used fresh and used tinned and there is absolutely zero difference to the end result.

I put the ginger, garlic, black peppercorns, and allspice berries into a chopping device and whizz them all up together into a sort of paste. Or you can just grind the pepper and allspice and chop the garlic and ginger. The allspice berries can even go in whole, if you like.

Now, put the whole lot into a decent pan with a nice thick bottom and boil it down over a high heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to make sure it doesn't stick. It can take over an hour — watch the mixture as it gets thicker: it's ready when you scrape the bottom of the pan and it takes a moment for the mixture to gloop back in, affording you a brief view of metal.

When it's ready, take it off the heat and pour it into sterile jars. Since this is chutney, don't use jam jars with metal lids, as the vinegar will corrode the metal. Kilner jars are best, and a dishwasher is the best way to sterilise them. If you're using a ladle to get the chutney into the jars, make sure the ladle is sterilised too. Seal the jars.

Leave for at least one month before eating, but that's only if you're desperate. This stuff only gets better with age; I was eating some of the 2009 batch the other day, and it's lovely.

This is a really good chutney. Enjoy it.