Monday, October 3, 2011

Canning Pumpkins

I grow certain crops about every other year or maybe longer because the amount of yield I get off of one years planting, is enough for this family for a couple years.

Pumpkins is one of those crops.

Lookie what I got this year!

You want to make sure you get a "pie pumpkin" when your choosing your seeds. This variety is Amish Pie. All the pumpkins you see here, came off of one mound. I know that cuz I only planted one mound.

You can see that they aren't as big as you would see in a commercial pumpkin patch. Those are Jack-o-Lantern pumpkins. They are much bigger and not very good for canning or use in recipes. You can use them, but pie pumpkins or a sugar pumpkin is best for food use.

Most folks only think of eating pumpkins during Thanksgiving, but there are many different uses for pumpkins other than pie, and you can eat it during the other 364 days of the year. just sayin. Just run "pumpkin recipes" through a google and see what you can come up with. A reader suggests this page for many pumpkin recipes

Because we do use pumpkins in recipes all throughout the year, I can it. Which isn't the most pleasant of tasks....not gonna lie.

First you have to peel the durned things and I have tried many different ways of peeling pumpkins that wont cause massive pain afterwords, or take all day to do one pumpkin, including the most popular, cutting the pumpkin in wedges and peeling it that way. There's not much longevity that way, your in too much pain to do much more than a canner load.

Theres also the ever popular cutting the pumpkin in half and baking the two halves till they are soft and then scooping out the pumpkin goop.

Now, unless you're gonna use it immediately, here's where I get all safety on you: If you do it like that, you have more of a mashed texture and the USDA says it's not safe for canning. They say that a pumpkin puree (containing sugar or not) is too dense for the heat to reach the center while processing, rendering the product unsafe. The only canning method these guys are calling safe is the cubed method. Which to me, is the easiest.

You can freeze, dry, or can cubes of pumpkin and be safe. Really. Women have been canning pumpkin puree, butter and other stuff since pumpkins arrived on this rock, and now, its not safe. Oh well, I'm gonna can cubes because its easy, and easy to use. You will have to make your own mind up.

Im gonna do some pumpkin butter too. Just a small batch tho. It can be kept in the fridge for up to 6 months. Im guessing it wont last past one. I think we're safe.

*climbing down off soapbox now*

I've not found a good method to peel these things yet tho. However... There is a way to do it that will cut your time, and pain down and that is, in a nutshell: cutting the top and bottom off and using your SHARP knife to cut off the peel from top to bottom all the way around the pumpkin. Check out this video. It shows you what im talking about in detail. I do my peeling like this guy, but I sway a bit from how he cuts the pumpkin afterwords.

After I get it all peeled, I just cut it in half and clean out the guts and put them in a colander so that I may extract the seeds to make some good stuff out of them later.

A little tip on getting the seeds out.

I use an ice cream scoop. well, its more like an ice cream spoon. It has a somewhat sharp edge to it, not rounded and it helps cut the guts away from the pumpkin. If you use a knife, it cuts too much meat, and we need all the meat we can get after all this work.

If you insert your spoon along the outside of the cavity where the seeds are, like this......

...then you can just push your scoop all the way under the guts, and it comes out easier. Notice I said easier. You still have to do a bit more cleaning after that. Not much, just a bit. I can usually get it pretty clean during the first part.

Then its gravy from here...

Just cut the halves into wedges and then into 1 inch cubes. Like this.....

This doesn't have to be exactly one inch cubes, just eyeball it.

Then you put them in a pot and barely cover them with water and bring them to a boil.

Put them in your quart jars leaving one inch head space and fill jar with the boiling water the pumpkin cubes were in, leaving one inch head space.

Wipe the rim of the jars clean, and put on your flats and rings.

Put the prepared quarts of pumpkin cubes in the pressure cooker at 10lbs for 90 minutes.

When all that is done, you should have something that looks like this....

 And when winter rolls around and you want a pumpkin...something or other, you can open one of these babies up, drain and mash them and use them in your something or other recipe!


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