Wednesday, 12 November 2008


Back when I was a cub, every summer my Mum & I would go out to our local pick-your-own farm, with it's endless fields of strawberries & raspberries (and the occasional row of mysterious hybrid something-berry*), and pick our own body weights in soft fruits, which would be taken home and turned into jam. Jam, jam, bloody jam. No eating strawberries raw for us, it had to be boiled up with preserving sugar & poured into jars. Or doused in sugar & left in the fridge overnight to go soft & pulpy. Brrr.
So when I eventually inherited my Nans giant preserving pan (where many a succulent red fruit met its grisly end), I vowed never to make a single blob of jam in it. No, it was to be reclaimed, redeemed & turned to a higher purpose.

Yes, dear reader, it would be used to make chutney.

Ahh, chutney. Friend of cheese, saviour of the boring sandwich, secret ingredient of shepherds pie or pumpkin tagine. And the nicest thing to do with cheese on toast (though spreading the toast with marmite before adding the cheese is also very tasty).
As I've mentioned before, few things make me happier than spending an afternoon pottering about in the kitchen making something tasty. And I had all these Pumpkins...**

So better make some Pumpkin Chutney then!

700g pumpkin (any variety will do, really), peeled, deseeded & chopped into equal sized pieces.
700g apples, peeled, cored & chopped into equal sized pieces (I used half cooking apples from my father-in-laws impossibly high-yielding little tree, and half coxes, as all my apples had gone to the Great Cider Making Caper)
1 large onion, peeled & diced
250g demerera sugar (or any brown sugar)
450ml white wine vinegar (or cider vinegar, or even malt vinegar, though that would be like taking the delicate flavour of your pumpkin, wrapping it around a housebrick & smacking yourself in the face with it (which is entirely understandable sometimes)
250g raisins
1tsp salt
1tbs chilli flakes
1" ginger, peeled & chopped

Pile all of that into your preserving pan. I know it doesn't look like there's enough vinegar in there, but there is. Promise.
In a piece of muslin (though I used a reusable teabag here. A crazy little invention from Whittards) tie up 1tsp peppercorns, 1 cinnamon stick (you can break it up if you need to) & 6 or 7 cloves. Chuck into the preserving pan & bring everything slowly to the boil. This will occupy you for the next hour or two, so I recommend a Micah P. Hinson CD while you work. Broken Family Band will also work, chutney likes being sung to.
Stir occasionally, and when it reaches a boil reduce to a simmer & give it the odd stir to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom or burns (unlikely to happen at the start, but after an hour it'll get thick & tricksy). After about an hour & a half (maybe more, maybe less) it will have thickened up, and you can draw your spoon across the bottom and see the base of the pan briefly, like Moses parting the Red Sea. Only it's a chutney sea.

You have Chutney! Spoon into clean, sterilised jars & seal. Waste half an hour on Google images looking for a good picture to go on the label, then store in a cool, dark place for a couple of months to mature (though you'll probably have a jar that's only half full. That can be used straight away. Future jars will be better & more matured, but it will still be tasty.
Om Nom Nom!

*Where I was disheartened to discover that the Loganberry didn't give you X-Men powers, and was just a fancy word for 'bigger Raspberry'. Hmpf.

**Some people smoke. Some people run up huge credit card debts buying shoes. I buy pumpkins. Could be worse.

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