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Elizabeth David’s Pumpkin & Tomato Chutney

This week, we’ll be posting a few of Johnny’s favourite recipes from Elizabeth David’s Christmas in the spirit of the holidays. Send us your photos of Elizabeth’s dishes in your kitchen and we’ll post them on Grey Matters. Happy Cooking!


It is not generally known that pumpkin can make an excellent chutney, rich and dark. The recipe below produces a mixture with a taste which is spicy but not to sharp; the pumpkin slices retain something of their shape, and shine translucently through the glass jars.

Green grocers very often sell pumpkins by the piece; a whole one is, of course, cheaper, but remember that once it is cut it will not keep longer than about ten days.

Ingredients are a 2 ½ lb piece of pumpkin (gross weight), 1 lb of ripe tomatoes, ½ lb of onions, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 oz of sultanas, ¾ lbs each of soft dark brown sugar and white caster sugar, 2 tablespoons of salt, 2 scant teaspoons each of ground ginger, black peppercorns and allspice berries, 1 ¼ pints of wine vinegar or cider vinegar.

Peel the pumpkin, discard seed and cottony center. Slice, then cut into pieces roughly 2 inches wide and long and ½ inch thick. Pour boiling water over the tomatoes, skin and slice them. Peel and slice the onions and the garlic.

Put all solid ingredients, including spices (crush the peppercorns and allspice berries in a mortar) and sugar, in your preserving pan. (For chutneys, always use heavy aluminum, never untinned copper jam pans.) Add vinegar. Bring gently to the boil, and then cook steadily, but not at a gallop, until the mixture is jammy. Skim from time to time, and toward the end of the cooking, which will take altogether about 50 minutes, stir very frequently. Chutney can be a disastrous sticker if you don’t give it your full attention during the final stages.

This is a long-keeping chutney, but, like most chutneys, it is best if cooked to a moderate set only; in other words it should still be a little bit runny; if too solid it will quickly dry up.

Ladle into pots, which should be filled right to the brim. When cold cover with rounds of waxed paper, and then with a double layer of thick greaseproof paper. (Or use jars with plastic-lined lids that will not be corroded by vinegar. JN) Transparent covers that let in the light are not suitable for chutney.

The yield from these quantities will be approximately 3 ½ lb; and although it may be a little more extravagant as regards fuel and materials, I find chutney cooked in small batches more satisfactory than when produced on a large scale.

It is worth noting that should it be more convenient, all ingredients for the chutney can be prepared, mixed with sugar and vinegar, and left for several hours or over night (but not longer than 12 hours) in a covered bowl before cooking.

*Recipe from Elizabeth David’s Christmas, David R. Godine: Boston, 2008. US Edition, p 138-139.


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