Sunday, 16 December 2012

Festive Pumpkin Chutney

Chutney decanting, in moody black and white.
As I'm tapping this out, the windows in our flat are steamed up and the place is full of the smell of spices and sugar; that's right, we've been on the chutney again. We have been meaning to make up a batch to give jars of as part of Christmas presents, using one of the pumpkins that we harvested back at the end of September.

However, we've been holding off; the one that we did cut into so far had white flesh with high water content, and needed to be thoroughly roasted before we could coax much flavour out of it. Apparently the longer you let them mature, the less water they'll have and the more flavour. I never really thought before growing these pumpkins about how closely related to melons they are, but we soon realised this when we hacked the first one open as the smell was more melon-like than reminiscent of pumpkin or squash.

Anyhow, the specimen that Kasia sacrificed to the chutney gods (presumably such deities exist in some culture out there?) today was noticeably more orange inside, the flesh definitely being a bit firmer. I tasted a bit raw, and while the flavour was certainly mild, it did at least have a taste; like an extremely mellow butternut squash.

I had a good look round t'internet for a recipe that I liked the sound of, and ended up going for one from the excellent British Larder blog, minus the tomatoes, of which, when in a mixed chutney, I am not a fan.

This is only the second batch of chutney (first effort was green tomato, which was amazing , recipe here) I've ever made, so I'm certainly not at Women's Institute level yet, but if you're reading this and you've never made any before: do it! The only bit that is a minor pain in the bum is the initial choppping; apart from that preparation is minimal, cooking is quite quick, and it makes your kitchen smell amazing into the bargain. Needing the spices for this recipe was also a good excuse for us to visit the great Indian grocers round the corner, which in itself was a reminder of how much more Indian and southern Mediterranean food we ought to be cooking, being as we can get so many of the required ingredients so easily, but that's a whole other story...


  • 750g pumpkin flesh, peeled and chopped into rough 1cm dice
  • 400g bramley or other cooking apple, peeled and chopped into rough 1cm dice.
  • 150g golden sultanas
  • 500g caster sugar. I went for golden, I prefer brown sugars to white
  • 500ml vinegar. I went for a mix of about 350ml cider, and 150ml white wine, just to mix it up
  • 1 large or 2 small onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 red chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 100g fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 healthy cinnamon stick
  • 6 green cardamom pods, toasted until fragrant in a dry frying pan
  • 1-2 star anise, depending on how you feel about it


  1. Bung the onion, garlic, ginger and chillies in a food processor and let them have it on full blend until they are finely minced. You might need to scrape the insides down. Then again, you might not.
  2. In a large pan or stockpot, preferably with a heavy bottom (otherwise things are going to stick and burn, which'll piss you off no end) slowly bring the vinegar and sugar to the boil, stirring so that the sugar all melts. Once it has all melted, add the onion/garlic/ginger/chilli mix and turn up the heat. Boil for 5 mins
  3. Add the chopped pumpkin, chopped apple and the sultanas, bring back to the boil, and simmer with the lid off. Give it a stir every now and then. Eventually the apple all disintegrates into mush, the mixture darkens slightly, most of the liquid is driven off and you are left with a sticky, aromatic panful of excellence. I reckon you want to cook it until the pumpkin chunks are still discernible, but look like they won't be for much longer. This took about 15-20 mins of quite rapid boiling for me.
Starting to thicken up; still needs another 5-10 mins
That's it! Now you've just got to decant it into sterilised glass jars. We bought some dinky little Kilner jars from Wilko's for not very much at all. This recipe made about 8 smallish jars full. It tasted really great as it went into the jars; really quite spicy, with the lumps of pumpkin giving a nice texture. I could fancy having this with poppadoms or a curry, or with a very strong cheddar like Isle of Mull. You're supposed to leave it in the jar for at least a week to let the flavours develop. I should imagine that, in a fridge, this will last for at least a month, once opened.

The total amount of pumpkin flesh we needed for this was only about 2/5 of the one we hacked up to make it. The rest was roasted with salt, pepper and garlic, and will become soup in the fullness of time.

So, there you have it; cheapo Christmas stocking-fillers, and people are allegedly supposed to love home-made stuff, so great. Plus, a soup as collateral. One last thing: if you're reading this and you happen to know either of us, and you're thinking "ooh, nice one, I bloody love chutney, looking forward to that", this recipe didn't make quite as many jars as I anticipated. Just something to be aware of, that's all. Merry Festivus!


  1. Boiling vinegar always takes my breath away - Martyn makes our piccalilli outside!

    1. I quite like it! Probably because I associate it with making hollandaise for Eggs Benedict.

      Did you ever get round to eating all of that monster pumpkin you grew? Do you think it would have kept or did it need hacking up when you did? I suppose storage space is an issue! After giving a few away, we're down to one last intact pumpkin. Going to grow squash next year in an attempt to have something with a bit more pronounced flavour.

  2. I've found that it is not just alleged but true - people love homemade gifts of food - especially something that really took some effort like this.

  3. I have never made or eaten chutney, I don't even know if I like it!! Maybe it's something I will try next year. I usually just make soup with my pumpkins although this year I am going to purée some too so that I can use it for muffins. I also save the seeds and roast them...they are really delicious!


All comments gratefully received. Sorry about the word verification thing, but I've started getting bombed by spam.

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