This colorful chutney balances sweet, sharp and spicy and enlivens plain meals in cold weather. It accompanies simple meat dishes, cheddar cheese or crusty whole-meal bread—a Yankee ploughman’s lunch. Any hard winter squash, such as Hubbard or Butternut, works well. Makes about 8 or more half-pint jars.
6-pound pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cubed (about 12 cups)
2 cups cider vinegar
2 cups brown sugar
1½ cups chopped onion
1 cup dried cranberries or raisins
½ red or green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
1 jalapeño or other hot chili pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced
½-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
2-inch stick cinnamon
1 tablespoon mustard seed
12 allspice berries
Put the pumpkin cubes in a large bowl and sprinkle heavily with salt, tossing to distribute it throughout. Cover the bowl and let it sit overnight for the salt to draw out the moisture.
Drain the pumpkin, rinse it thoroughly in fresh water, and drain again. Put the cubes in a large heavy-bottomed pot with the remaining ingredients and two cups of water. Cover, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 2 hours, stirring once in a while. Watch the pot towards the end to see that the bottom doesn’t scorch. Taste for balance of seasoning, adding sugar and spice as needed.
When the syrup is thick and the pumpkin tender, discard the cinnamon stick. Ladle the chutney into warm half-pint jars. Sterilize them in a hot water bath according to the jar manufacturer’s directions. Let it mature for a couple of weeks before opening.