Sugar Pumpkin Chutney in a Paper Pumpkin Cage

Prep Time: 1 1/2 hours

Listen to the interview.

Dinah Corley’s mother taught her a very important lesson: “Never go to someone’s door empty-handed.” It was a morsel of wisdom that would continue to stay with Dinah, now an accomplished cooking teacher and food writer, for the rest of her life.

Dinah joined me to talk about artful gift-giving and her book, Gourmet Gifts: 100 Delicious Recipes for Every Occasion to Make Yourself and Wrap with Style. She places emphasis on both the food and its wrapping and shared the secrets to holiday gifts that have an undeniable “wow” factor.

Here’s Dinah’s Sugar Pumpkin Chutney recipe.  Dinah rates this food gift as easy and inexpensive and easy to ship. It keeps in the fridge for 2-3 weeks but does not freeze well. She says it’s not only wonderful with holiday turkey or ham, it’s delicious with next day sandwiches or a wedge of aged cheddar and toasted bread rounds with fall cocktails.

Directions

Chutney: Combine all of the ingredients in a large Dutch oven or a small stockpot and allow them to macerate for 30 minutes. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer the chutney for 10 minutes.

Remove the cover and continue to cook the chutney for another 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the pumpkin flesh is very soft and easily pieced with a fork and most of the liquid has cooked away. Allow the mixture to cool slightly. Meanwhile, wash a glass jar or jars (this recipe make enough to fill three 8-ounce jars) in hot soapy water and dry in a 190-degree oven.
Spoon the warm chutney into the hot jar, let cool, and cover tightly. Store in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble and deliver the gift.

Paper Pumpkin Cage
A pumpkin costume makes the chutney an entirely charming gift for any fall occasion. The supply list and directions that follow apply to an 8-ouce jar approximately 4 inches high and 3 inches wide. You can adjust the supplies and directions to accommodate just about any jar; simply make sure that the diameter of the orange paper circle is four times the height of the jar. For example, a jar that is 4 inches in height requires a circle of orange paper that is 16 inches in diameter.

How to turn a jar into a pumpkin: If you can envision folding circles of paper to make snowflakes, the construction of this pumpkin cage will be easy. Fold the orange paper circle in half, then in half again. Unfold the circle and smooth it out on a work surface. Using the two intersecting crease lines as your guide, center the chutney jar on the paper circle and trace and the bottom of the jar. Remove the jar and refold the circle into quarters. Fold the quarter circle in half, and then in half again, so that you have folded the circle into 16 parts. (Remember, this is just like folding a paper snowflake.) Use small pointed craft scissors to round off the sharp corners of the folded circle's outer edge. Unfold the paper circle and smooth it out once again on the work surface, revealing a large circular shape with 16 scallops around the circumference. Starting at the outside of the circle, use the scissors to cut along each of the 16 creased lines all the way to the outside of the traced center circle. The big orange circle should now resemble a floppy daisy with 16 petals.

Center the chutney jar on 2 sheets of slightly crumpled tissue paper and gather the tissue loosely over the jar, not only to cove the jar but to give it a rounder shape. Apply a large "X" of double-face tape to the jar lid and press the tissue into the tape to keep it in place over the jar. Apply another large "X" of double-face tape to one of the brown paper circles and center it, tape side down, over the top of the jar to neatly cover the orange tissue on the jar lid. Now apply double-face tape all around the perimeter of this brown paper circle. Center the tissue-wrapped, brown-circle-topped jar to chutney on the orange "daisy." Bring each "petal," one after the other, just over the rim of the jar lid and press it into the double-face-tape perimeter of the brown circle. Each consecutive petal should overlap about one-third of the previous petal. Proceed all the way around the jar in this fashion. When you are finished, you will have a jar of chutney surrounded by a paper pumpkin "cage."

Apply a couple of large "X"s of double-face tape to the remaining circle of brown construction paper, and apply this circle, tape side down, to the top of the pumpkin cage to further secure the pumpkin "petals" and cover the construction of your wrap. Use double-face tape or super-tacky craft glue to apply the autumn leaves for some curly-paper or raffia "vine" to the pumpkin for a finishing touch.


Yield: about 3 cups

What's Needed:

 

Sugar Pumpkin Chutney

1 pound peeled & seeded sugar pumpkin, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup golden raisins
3 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 piece (1/2 inch) peeled fresh ginger, cut into fine slivers

Paper Pumpkin Cage supplies for each 4-inch jar:

1 circle (16 inches) orange construction paper or lightweight poster paper
2 sheets dark-orange tissue paper
double-face tape
2 circles (3 inches each) brown construction paper
3 paper or fabric autumn leaves
1 length (10-12 inches) curly paper or paper raffia ribbon in green or brown

 

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