What to do with pumpkins – chutney

pumpkins glowing in autumn lightI don’t really want to harvest all my pumpkins too soon, I want to have a few left for Halloween but they are ripening up thick and fast in this warm, early autumn weather. I roasted most of the last one and made some soup (based on this one but with added lentils) but quite a lot of that is still in the freezer.

inside a pumpkin

The second of our eight fruits came home at the weekend and it was about the same size as the first – 7kg! Time to make some chutney.

It’s two years since we had a major chutney making session. I don’t know how many jars we made but we’ve been eating my favourite dark, sticky rhubarb chutney ever since. I’ve adapted the recipe to use up some of my pumpkin. It seems to have worked well but I can’t promise that it is perfect because you can’t really test a chutney until it’s matured for  month or two.

The most time consuming part of making chutney is the chopping up. It can’t really be avoided though and unless you particularly want chunky chutney, you have to spend the time finely dicing your fruit and vegetables. The pumpkin seems to hold it’s shape surprisingly well, considering how easy it is to mash when it is steamed. The picture below is the ‘before’.

pumpkin chutney before

Ingredients

450g Dark Brown Sugar

1kg of finely diced pumpkin. This is the weight after it has been peeled and chopped

450g chopped cooking apples

450g sultanas

450g finely diced onion

2 lemons – remove the zest and chop, remove the pips then finely chop the rest of the lemon

25g ground ginger

25g salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

700ml white wine or cider vinegar.

Put all the ingredients into a large preserving pan and heat gently. Continue to cook, allowing the mixture to bubble gently until the liquid has reduced significantly. This will take a couple of hours but you shouldn’t need to give it a lot of attention, just the occasional stir to make sure that nothing is sticking.

To test whether the chutney is done, draw a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan. If the mixture stays parted for a few seconds and you can see the base, it has probably reduced enough. The picture below is the ‘after’ picture. It’s not particularly attractive but it does taste good.

When the chutney is almost done, prepare your jars. I always use recycled glass jars which I wash well, stand upright in a roasting tin and put in the oven for about 15 minutes at just over 100C to sterilise them. I also wash the lids, checking that none of them are damaged and then stand them in a pan of boiling water.

Fill the hot jars with the warm chutney using a jam funnel, taking care not to get burned!

bottling chutney with funnel

And if you’ve still got lots of pumpkin left, roast some more and make spiced coconut and pumpkin stew.

pumpkin stew

52 weeks of happy: 39/52

IMG_3601Some crochet stars that must have been inspired by beautiful the British asters we had in the house this week.

IMG_3620No need to say any more. If you have no idea why I would be excited about this, visit the website, here.

IMG_3635Pretty buttons and beads. A random moment of shininess while I prepare for my first craft fair this weekend.

IMG_3681Babykins and I harvested our first fully orange pumpkin this week. I made an enormous batch of pumpkin soup and unusually for me, decided to keep and toast the seeds. There are loads of recipes out there but I used this one, which is about as simple as it gets. They were delicious. Even Son Number One and the Middle Miss nibbled a few and approved.

Halloween Frugality

Is it wrong to cook the Halloween pumpkin? Are you all going to be disgusted with me? Will it make any difference if I tell you that I peeled both the outside and inside? Inspired by this, I decided to go ahead and make something useful from what would otherwise be a heap of rotting squash. I’m not sure how the children will take it when they wake up tomorrow but it’s too late now. I peeled, chopped and roasted the three pumpkins along with about four cloves of garlic. The Husband had already diced and gently cooked two onions before we changed our supper plans so I added the roast pumpkin to them. I cooked the pumpkin and onion together with approximately half a teaspoon of the spices shown below (and mentioned in the link above), a couple of diced carrots and just under a litre of chicken stock that I had in the freezer. Et voila….Frugal Halloween themed soup for lunch tomorrow. It’s a bit more chickeny than I anticipated (I forgot how much shredded meat was frozen with the stock) but it smells divine. I will blitz it tomorrow, before serving and see how the ultimate taste testers get on with it.   It looks pretty good to me, but then I have been enjoying a little tipple. Damson gin. Gorgeous. One day I might get around to straining the batch I made last year!    

Pumpkins R Us

I know this seems like an unseasonable post, but I am currently experiencing pumpkin overload. Last summer we managed to harvest a couple of biggish specimens despite little effort on our part.

I cut into the first one back in the late autumn and I was amazed at how many meals it provided. In an effort to avoid wasting any, I made the last part of it into pumpkin, orange and ginger jam. The second pumpkin has been in our garage ever since. I have been putting off cutting into it as it is even bigger than the last one and will therefore require more creativity to use up.

My handspan is about 19cm at full stretch (I was never going to make it as a concert pianist) so that should give you an idea of how big it is.

It seems to have stored remarkably well in the coolness of the garage. There is just a little bit of softness around the place where the stalk was. Must have been just the right time to get stuck into it.

Our first pumpkin meal was Lucy from Attic 24’s sweet and easy curry recipe. I’ve been wanting to try it for a few weeks. I had the yogurt, I had the spices, I just needed something for ‘bulk’. The only thing I could find was the giant pumpkin, so I bravely started chopping.

It was a very simply recipe to prepare. Apart from the basic curry paste, I added a chopped onion and some green pepper.

It made a tasty end to Saturday night while I sat down to watch a film. I wish I could have persuaded the Husband to join me but he was Too Busy Doing Chores (I know I shouldn’t complain) and had decided that my choice of film was a ‘Chick Flick’ (Keira Knightly in “The Duchess”). A home made Saturday night curry is getting to be a bit of a habit these days. If you want to introduce your children to the idea of curry, this recipe is probably a good place to start. It is very, very mild and quite sweet. Probably a bit too sweet to be made with pumpkin really. Of course, you could adjust that to suit yourself by varying the amount of mango chutney and chilli you add.

Sunday arrived and I figured I would see off some more pumpkin by making soup. Another slice was hacked off, peeled, cubed and thrown into my biggest oven tray with a bit of oil.

After about 20-30 minutes in a hot oven it looked like this:

Slightly browned at the edges and soft all the way through.

While it was roasting I sauteed a sliced onion and a couple of cloves of garlic. 

To make the soup I mixed the whole lot together with a vegetable stock cube and plenty of boiling water.

After that, all I had to do was cook it a bit longer and give it a bit of a zshuss with my trusty stick blender.

Bingo – our lunch on Sunday. I did the usual trick of thickening it with baby rice for the most junior member of the family. He is quite taken with feeding himself these days. Thick soup sticks surprisingly well to a spoon, even when he turns it upside down to get it in his mouth. Even Son Number One ate his up! Result!

We managed to use up some more on Sunday night, roasted as a vegetable alongside our chicken. I threw a bit into my left-over chicken soup this lunchtime. There’s still a quarter of it left.

Now I am in a race against time to use up the rest of the pumpkin. The little soft patch at the top is slowly spreading so I’d better get a move on. Anyone for pumpkin and chickpea curry?