Butternut squash and red tomato chutney

THERE are still plenty of pumpkins and squashes around and this is an excellent time to make chutney.

An afternoon in the kitchen making preserves in this miserable weather is just what the doctor ordered to cheer ourselves up and to enjoy the rewards later on. Chutney improves for keeping so other than the cooks perks (those few tablespoons left over that are not quite enough to fill a pot) you should really try and resist eating it until, say, Easter.

I have suggested using tinned tomatoes but make sure you use whole ones and discard the seeds and juice and then chop what is left. If you make this in summer then use fresh tomatoes.

Makes 6 x 250 ml jars

1kg peeled and deseeded firm butternut squash or other pumpkin variety cut into 1 cm cubes

500g whole tinned plum tomatoes, chopped and seeds and juice discarded (2 tins)

500g onions, chopped

50g sultanas

500g Demerara sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 egg-sized lump of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

½ nutmeg, freshly grated

400ml malt vinegar plus 100ml extra

6 x 250 ml jars with lids or covers

waxed paper discs to suit

Put the prepared butternut squash/pumpkin, tomatoes, onions, sultanas, sugar, salt, ginger, garlic, nutmeg and the 400 ml vinegar in a saucepan and bring slowly to the boil.

Simmer for 1 hour, stirring from time to time. The chutney should look dark, dense and rich. Top up with extra vinegar if the chutney dries out too much while cooking.

Transfer to the warmed jar, cover the surface of the chutney with a waxed disc, wipe the jar with a clean damp cloth and seal at once.

Label when cool and store for one to six months in a cool, dark cupboard before opening.