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Monday, October 18, 2010

Putting Up Pumpkins

Prepping on the cheap is one of my favorite subjects, as is food preservation so here is a post where all my favorite topics collide: putting up pumpkins.  This summer was an excellent summer for curcubits; there's a word you don't get to use everyday, eh?  Curcubits are the family of fruits that include melons, cucumbers, squashes, pumpkins, gourds, etc and while melons and cukes won't keep, a well-cured pumpkin or winter squash can store for months on end.  Literally.  Last year I had Butternut squash until the end of March.

With Halloween and Thanksgiving fast approaching, you can find 'decorative' winter squashes and pumpkins for very little money.  While a big carving pumpkin can run upwards of $10, small sugar pumpkins can be had for under a dollar and one small pumpkin can yield 2-3 pies or loaves of bread.  If you're extremely thrifty, like yours truly, you can post on Freecycle on Nov. 1 that you're looking for pumpkins and squash leftover from fall displays and you'll have all the free pumpkins you could ever want! 

Once you have your pumpkins and squash in hand, watcha going to do with it?  I use several different methods of preservation.  First I store fresh squash and pumpkins on a table in the basement.  They generally like warmer temperatures than apples, so a cool basement will serve you well.  Set them up so that air can circulate and check them periodically for rot.  One bad pumpkin spoils the bunch. 

I also love canning pumpkin.  While you can't can pumpkin puree, you can can pumpkin chunks.  Just peel the pumpkin (or squash), chunk it up, blanch it for 2 minutes then jar it, cover with water and process pints for 55 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.  Yes, it takes a while, so make sure you have a full canner!  When it's time to use your canned pumpkin, simply drain the pumpkin or squash, mash with a fork and use it like commercial canned pumpkin puree.   Here's a link to the NCHFP for complete instructions. 

Another favorite means of preservation, and also my most guilt-laden, is candied pumpkin.  If you've never had good Mexican pumpkin candy...O.M.G.  Slivers of pumpkin are steeped in a pungent, spicy, brown-sugar rich syrup then dried and rolled in additional sugar.  Candying IS a legitimate form of food preservation, I keep telling myself, but the truth is I'm addicted to this rich, spicy candy!  It's a very simple sweet and the best part....you know exactly what's in this treat! 

If you're thinking about putting up pumpkins, now is the time to get started, while the selection is abundant and the price is low! 


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Gen-IL Homesteader said...

Anrea, Another great example of using Freecycle for free food--something I've just never thought of before!! I will also cook and blender my pumpkin and freeze it in appropriate size containers for pies, breads and muffins. (BTW, just this week we ate our very last butternut squash from last year's garden!) I have never heard of the pumpkin candy you mentioned, but I'm going to check it out right now! Thanks!

Andrea said...

I use freecycle for a lot of my prepping. Like free pumkins and squash. Fruit and berries in season. Bales of straw leftover from decorations. 5 gallon buckets. Leaves and grass clippings for the garden. Lots of good stuff to be found on freecycle!

That pumpkin candy is so good and so simple. It's dense and chewy and well, at least there's some vitamins and minerals under all the sugar, right?

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