Sunday, 29 March 2009

Harvest Time - Pumpkin

Posted by Bel
From Spiral Garden

are my most favourite vegetables. We have a lot of visitors from overseas (WWOOFers on our farm) and it's amazing how few of them are familiar with this wonderful vegetable. I think they're more commonly known as "squash" in the US, is that right?

Here in Australia it's Autumn - harvest time. We're harvesting lots of pumpkins, with still more to come through into early Winter.

So I thought I'd share some of my favourite recipes with those who are also harvesting. And for those who aren't - here's some inspiration to plant pumpkins soon!

Pumpkin Risotto
1 whole small Jap pumpkin, cubed in 2cm pieces
1 medium brown onion, diced
2L+ boiling water with 1.5 tblspn Massell Chicken-style stock powder
4 cups white rice
1/2 tsp dried Italian herbs or 1 tbsn fresh

Dice onion and pumpkin, saute in a large, heavy-based pot in a little olive oil until golden and softening. Add the rice and stir for approximately 1 minute. Add about 1L of the water with stock powder added. Stir until absorbed.
Add remaining water and half-cover pot over medium heat so rice absorbs water, stirring often. Have extra water at hand to keep risotto moist and stop it sticking to the base of the pot.
When risotto is soft and creamy, add some freshly ground pepper. Serve with some steamed green vegies and grated cheese.

Pumpkin Soup
1 whole large Jap pumpkin
3 large potatoes, peeled
2 large brown onions, peeled & quartered
few large cloves garlic, peeled
Massel Vegetable Stock Powder

Roast pumpkin, onion and garlic in a little olive oil until browned. Boil potatoes, diced, in about 3L of water with 2 tbspn stock powder. When potatoes are soft, pour in roasted vegetables and boil for a further 10 mintues. Blend with stick mixer. Add freshly ground black pepper. If soup is too thick (depends on the pumpkin), add a splash of milk if you wish. Serve with bread. Freezes well. Pumpkin and lentil soup, with added cooked red lentils and some extra spice is a wonderful variation on this recipe. You can also add sweetcorn, cannellini beans, croutons, cream and other ingredients to make the most of the abundant harvest.

Pumpkin Fruit Cake
250g butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed pumpkin
2 cups wholemeal flour + 1 tsp baking powder
250g mixed fruit of your choice, diced

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and beat well one at a time. Add the pumpkin, flour with baking powder and fruit. Mix well and bake at 170 degrees C or until brown on top and inserted skewer comes out clean. *Tip* At harvest time, boil or steam pumpkin, mash and freeze in 1-cup portions in the freezer. Then you have pumpkin for this cake (and other recipes) for months to come.

Pumpkin & Spinach Frittata
900g pumpkin, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbspn olive oil
6 eggs
1/2 cup cream
40g spinach leaves
sprinkle of parmesan & grated cheddar

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Bake pumpkin, brushed with oil and garlic, till tender. Line baking dish with paper. Whisk eggs and cream and season. Layer ingredients in dish & bake for 25 minutes.

Pumpkin Lasagne
lasagne sheets
500g chopped pumpkin
olive oil
medium onion, chopped
clove garlic, crushed
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup tomato paste
3/4 cup mozarella cheese, grated
1/2 cup tasty cheese, grated

Cook & mash pumpkin. Add olive oil, onion and garlic. Place a layer of pumpkin, lasagne sheets, half the ricotta... Then lasagne sheets, tomato paste, etc, etc until ingredients are used up and dish is topped with cheese. Bake at 180 degrees C for around 35 minutes or until pasta sheets are cooked through. *Tip* Frozen pumpkin, as suggested for the fruit cake, is fine for this recipe too!

I also use pumpkin in curries, with mashed potato, in quiches, in any casseroles or stews, as roasted small cubes through a green salad or cold roast pumpkin pieces in a salad wrap... As I said, it's my very favourite vegetable! Please feel free to paste or link to your favourite pumpkin recipes in the Comments section! Happy growing and cooking!


Kate@LivingTheFrugalLife said...

Thanks for the recipes suggestions!

We're warming up to pumpkins and winter squash slowly. I'm making a real effort to overcome our diffidence towards hard squash in general, because they keep so admirably well. We'll eat squash, but we both like green vegetables much better.

Here's the recipe that we both like best so far. It's pretty simple, just pasta with pumpkin, sage, cream and parmesan:

Pumpkin-Sage Penne Pasta

This year I'm planning to grow sugar pumpkin, which we've grown before, and also try out the triamble and the Stella Blue Hokkaido squash, to see if we like those any better. We'll probably grow just one of those three the following year, after deciding which we like best.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Bel, we do call them squash here,with the distinction commonly being pepo cucurbits are pumpkins and maxima are winter squash.

For us, we find the high amounts of vitamins A & C and beta carotene really help us beat the winter doldrums here.

And the keeping qualities bar none, with no energy required, just dry, cool storage after the initial curing.

I eat squash as my breakfast vegetable, but your recipes look very tasty!

Thank you for the great post.

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

I love pumpkins! I'm from north American and I think what you show in your photograph is what I would call Kabocha, and think of a Japanese squash. But regardless of what we call them, they are wonderful. I think of them as my favorite winter squash. You can actually bake several in an oven at one time, take them out and let them cool and then open them, remove the seeds and freeze the pulp. Last Thanksgiving my daughter made our traditional pumpkin pie from Kabocha and it was really the best ever.

debbie said...

I like growing and eating pumpkins. However mine don't seem to keep that well. Can you tell me how to know when the pumpkins are ready to be harvested? Also do you have any tips for hardening off the pumpkins so they will keep? Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

Bel said...

We mostly grow what Kristi has called Japanese squash. They're called Jap or Kent pumpkins here and have a lovely sweet flavour, smooth texture and good keeping quality. They grow on a fairly large, rambling vine which produces a decent number of pumpkins. I've grown these and saved the seed from my own garden for over 10 years now, and I like to think that "mine" are adapting to our wet climate. :)

Because I have so much space now we're on our farm, I am growing other types of pumpkin as well this year, mainly Queensland Blue, which are HUGE, with less flavour than my favourite Jap, and a bit more fibrous texture.

Debbie, ideally you would leave your pumpkins on the vine as it dies back. The stems dry well and the skin hardens in the autumn sunshine. But here in the tropics, we pick ours when they're big enough. Otherwise they split or rot and we lose them. So we have to do our drying or harvesting undercover. Old time farmers I know push the pumpkins up onto a tin roof to dry out really well with the heat. I find that wiping all mud etc off them, storing them so they don't touch each other with a good couple of inches of stem remaining is useful. Some say to store them stem-down, but I haven't noticed a difference.

When choosing a pumpkin to cook, I go through those I have stored and check for any which might be showing signs of age and use them up first. If I have a couple with spots from insects or weather I will cook them up and freeze as puree or soup.

Different types of pumpkins keep longer than others, of course. The Jap/Kent I grow (I'm not sure of the exact variety it is as I started it from one I bought at a market) is my best keeper. The Qld Blue has a hard skin, but seems to be weak around the stem area. Butternuts don't keep nearly as long as other types. Other varieties I've grown, we've eaten the few we've harvested rather than saved them.

I forgot to mention that most of my recipes make HUGE amounts, as I'm usually cooking for 8 to 10 people. We also love leftovers here, for lunch the next day!

lakeviewer said...

The recipes all sound delicious.

Rinelle said...

Ohh, thanks for the recipes. We have lots of pumpkins here too, from a volunteer vine, and I've been wondering how I'm going to eat them all! I'll definitely have to try some of these recipes.

And the storage tips are good as well. We've also picked our pumpkins early, as it's so wet here (though not as bad as up t here I'm sure) that I'm worried they will rot if I leave them on the ground. I currently have them all stacked up, I didn't know about leaving room between them, so I'll have to re-arrange them in the next couple of days. Thanks.

Bel said...

Hi Rinelle! Enjoy your pumpkins! We also make soup in the biggest pot we have and freeze it for winter - mmmmmmm!

Throwback... I am curious about this: "I eat squash as my breakfast vegetable"

linda said...

Yes, they are known as squash here in the U.S. The particular one you call for and pictured in this post is known as Kabocha. It can be hard to find depending on where you live. If I can't find it, I replace Butternut as has been suggested in Japanese cookbooks that use Kabocha.

greendraggon said...

I'm also curious. I can't really imagine eating pumpkin for breakfast. I love pumpkin risotto and soup but the best pumpkin is roasted with lamb and covered in gravy lol

Pat aka Posh said...

Yes, we call them squash and I too love them.. its a bit early yet but I will be planting several kinds of them this year. i have found they even freeze well and taste wonderful added to veggie soup.
I'm going to have to try some of your recipes.. especially the fruit cake one.

Hot Belly Mama said...

Thank you so much for your advice on the soil! My husband and I both looked into everything you recommended and agreed it makes the most sense for our situation. THANK YOU!

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Bel, I wondered if I would get a rise about that statement... I like squash, and try to always have some steamed and just ready to reheat for breakfast. Everyone else is more than happy to go without squash at breakfast so I can have mine :)

But that is just winter fare, until I run out of squash in the late spring.

Dani said...

I planted a pumpkin vine last year. It has some lovely pumpkins on it which I' looking forward to harvesting. The Huzzband has forbidden me from ever growing it again. He thinks its a bit scary the way it has take over :D

Bel said...

Dani, my Mum used to say that when I was a kid. I still pinched the pumpkin seeds from the scraps and planted them in her gardens! She let them grow because she couldn't resist the yummy pumpkins. Back then I grew butternut - the small ones which are easy to peel. :) One thing you can do to prevent the vine totally over-running your garden is to go out daily and turn the runners back onto the vine. Just lift them and point them toward the middle again. Some gardeners also recommend mowing the runners every week or so and say it encourages more fruit production.

Throwback, how do you eat it, just steamed and heated? Is it seasoned - sweet or savoury?

One more thing I forgot to add about growing pumpkins... If it's wet (as it is in our area in summer) you can put a piece of cardboard or several layers of newpaper under the pumpkin so it isn't in the mud or on wet grass. This stops the pumpkin from getting a weak spot in the skin and deters bugs a little too.

When my children enter pumpkins in the local agricultural show, they use this cardboard trick so their pumpkin has no flaws on the skin and is more likely to win a prize!

And lastly, if you do not have bees, you will need to hand-pollinate the pumpkin flowers each morning. Here's some instructions:

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Bel, the squash I grow is called Sweet Meat and it is sweet enough to eat without sweetener. I just melt a pat of butter in a cast iron pan and heat the squash that way. I believe this squash would be very similar to a Hubbard or Queensland Blue. 15lbs on average with very dense, sweet flesh, and tasty seeds. And it keeps until May!

miss*R said...

I have 3 large pumpkins nearly ready to harvest and cannot wait to try some of these recipes. thanks!
ps- my pumpkin was a self seeded one too!

Bel said...

Lovely to hear from other pumpkin fans! Throwback, I'm having pumpkin for brekky this week!

What do others do with pumpkin seeds? I've cooked them once or twice, but generally either plant them, share them, or feed them to the chooks (ie: hens, apparently they help prevent parasites)...

Karen said...

I have finally grown my first pumpkin (kent)! So excited. It grew from a volunteer & has a few capsicum mates popping up as well. We have wooden sleepers for garden edges & I've found that by balancing the pumpkin on the edge of the garden it's avoided getting the yukky spot underneath. Hoping that any others grow near the edge so I can do the same thing. Hmmmmm, roast pumpkin for dinner tonight, but hopefully it will be my last shop bought pumpkin for a while. :)

growing beans said...

Thank you for this article. very informative. You even gave out a pumpkin soup recipe. Bravo