Questions? Write Me at

Questions? Write me at fullcirclegardener @ cableone . net.

Preserving Garden Produce: Pumpkins

My pumpkins grew on my tomato cage and had to be supported this year.
Pumpkin carving is a Halloween must for the young people in my family, but I was able to convince them to not carve our ripe pumpkins so that we could make them into pumpkin pies.  ;)  We decorated our ripe pumpkins with stickers and water color paint, set them out for Halloween evening and then brought them back in so they wouldn't get damaged or frozen.

Yesterday I decided it was time to get them cooked and preserved.  Some friends and I had recently been discussing what was the best way to preserve pumpkin.  We all agreed that the easiest way to preserve pumpkin was to freeze, but what if there wasn't enough freezer space?  I had old literature (1970's era) that said it could be water bath canned and I couldn't find any information on pressure canning, so I made a quick call to the local extension office.  I found out that water bath canning is NOT recommended (in fact she told me to throw away my old canning book!) but pumpkin, a low acid vegetable, can be pressure canned.

I have plenty of freezer space so I chose to cook & freeze my pumpkins.  I started by removing the stickers and washing off the paint. You probably won't need to do that ;), but the rest of the process is fairly standard.  Happy pumpkin preserving.

Freezing Pumpkin

1.  Wash, poke with a knife for ventilation, adjust oven racks and bake at 350F for 1-2 hours (depending on size).  It is done when a knife penetrates the rind and flesh easily.

2.  Remove from oven and let cool until they can be handled.  Cut in half and scoop out the seeds.

3.  Cover with foil and bake longer if the flesh does not easily scoop away from the rind.  (I removed my first batch from the oven too early and had to cook them 20 min longer.)

4.  Scoop out the flesh with a spoon.  Label and freeze in containers or freezer bags after it is completely cool.

I have frozen winter squash (including pumpkin) just as they came out of the rind or pureed.  This time I chose to puree the pumpkin before I froze it.  To puree, place 2-4 cups of flesh in a blender.  Cover and start at a low speed and increase as the flesh is pureed.  Carefully push the flesh down toward the blade if it gets stuck.  Be VERY careful not to come in contact with the blades!  Add a small amount of water if necessary to bring it to a constancy that will self feed (creates a whirlpool effect in the center as it draws down). 

Happy Garden Preserving! :)

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