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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Pickled pumpkin

by Throwback at Trapper Creek

I don't normally grow pumpkins, saving my space for more productive winter squash is more up my gardening alley - but if I do happen to plant pumpkins, I don't pass up a chance to make pumpkin pickles. An oddity for sure, but a fond childhood memory from my gardening mentors. After Halloween, the few pumpkins they did grow became pickles for their holiday meals. I never realized until I was an adult, that these pickles gleaned from a vegetable that is grown by the acre just for decoration for the masses, was another exercise in frugality by these folks who taught me so much. Sometimes the lessons were very subtle.

A sweet, hot pickle with a solid texture, pickled pumpkin is probably an acquired taste. The consistency and the deep orange color are not what we think of when we think pickles.

I grew Styrian Naked Seed Pumpkins this year, for the seeds. And pumpkins do not keep as well as winter squash, so I have been working my way through them to harvest the seeds. I am the only one here who eats these pickles so one batch of preserved pumpkin lasts awhile. No need to use all the pumpkins for pickles.

A hatchet job for sure. The skins are very tough.

Remove the edible seeds for drying, and scrape out all the pulp.

The hardest part of the process is peeling. Cut the pumpkin in small slices about the size that you would a melon for serving.

Cut the pumpkin into uniform chunks. Combine pumpkin, sugar, salt, vinegar, water and spice sachet. Cook for about an hour on medium heat or until pumpkin is tender.

To make spice sachet, cut a square of cheesecloth or muslin large enough to hold 2 to 3 Tablespoons of pickling spice. Add or remove hot peppers depending on taste preference.

Tie sachet securely with string for the cooking process.

While the pickles are cooking take the spoils to the hens and barter for eggs :)

Thanks girls!

When pumpkin is tender, fill hot, sterilized jars.

Process in water bath canner for 10 minutes to ensure a good seal, or fill jars and refrigerate. These will keep indefinitely in the fridge.

A few jars to last me until ... . Actually I like these pickles on sandwiches, potato salad or in chicken salad. The unusual color also makes them good addition to a gift basket. The possibilities are endless.


5 quarts peeled and cubed pumpkin (about 1 medium pumpkin or 2 small)
5 cups sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 cups cider vinegar
2 cups water
2 - 3 Tablespoons pickling spice in a bag (remove before filling jars)

Cut pumpkin in small slices and peel. Cut into cubes and combine pumpkin with all ingredients. Cook for 1 hour or until pumpkin is tender, about an hour. Pack in hot jars, process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Or store in refrigerator.


Pat aka Posh said...

Interesting.. I've ate watermelon pickles but not pumpkin and would be willing to try these too

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I've ordered some of the naked seeds for next summer. Have you eaten the pickles made from this variety? Does the taste of the pickles vary by variety?
So other than making pickles the remains are fed to the livestock? I was told that pumpkin itself was not very edible and this makes me hesitant to devote much space to them.

Sadge said...

Do you not totally submerge your jars for water bath canning?

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Pat, LOL I have never had watermelon pickles, I'm guessing they might be similar :)

Anon, I won't devote much space to them either. I posted about the reasons on my personal blog:

They do taste the same, and have the same texture as pickles I have made before. For the small amount of seed I have been getting, my winter squash is much more productive and easier to work with. The small amount of flesh from pumpkins is at best a treat for the stock.

Sadge, I do, but I keep the jars in the almost boiling water until I fill them. So I am only part way through the batch in the photo. I fill a jar or two, and put them in the water, and repeat. I think the photo shows an empty jar to the left.

I never know how redundant to be when giving instructions, maybe readers will chime in and tell me if that is confusing to not show every single step...

Sustainable Eats said...

That makes perfect sense. I've had watermelon pickles before and I bet they are about the same. Those are yummy too! But the novelty of these is more fun.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Sustainable Eats, they are good, and the color is gorgeous! They look so good in a potato salad, and the brine is good for that too - that is if you use a sweet pickle for that type of salad :)

Georgie said...

Interesting - my Ausmerican friends (born in the US, living in Australia) are always complaining that you can't get 'real' pumpkin here - what we call pumpkin is squash to you, I think - so here I thought they were good for food, but they're actually only used mostly for Hallowe'en decorations?

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Georgie, that's right, acres of production for decoration only. There are commercial growers for pie filling, but this year due to bad weather, much of that crop could not be harvested.

I grow squash for pumpkin dishes, liking the longer keeping qualities and thicker, smooth flesh for cooking. Most pumpkins are Cucurbita pepo which has thin stringy flesh and does not keep very well. Some C pepo's are good, like Acorn or Delicata, but for the most part, Cucurbita maxima or moschata is the way to go.

Carol said...

I'll bet the "girls" love the way you barter...

Hayden said...

those look like they'd be fun to have - I'll check down the road and see if the pumpkin place is closed yet. They were open last week, so maybe there's still time to try them this year.

susan said so said...

These sound - and look - YUM!

My sister used to know a man who got all the throw-aways from several local supermarkets, and he shared them with her; once it was several bushels of turnips and other root vegetables, and she made chow-chow using them all. It was delicious, and I begged her out of several jars, but I didn't think to ask for the recipe until years later, and by then she hardly remembered what all veggies she'd used, much less the spices and such. I wish i had a jar right now, and a big bowl of beans to eat it with! : )


secret word: musing

nipitinthebud said...

hooray, this is the sort of recipe that's just down my cooking alley - and I have about a dozen pumpkins gathering dust in the cellar. I foresee potential finger losses when I do eventually use them!

Brad K. said...


Del Monte and Libby ship a lot of "pumpkin" pie mix. I am told almost all of it is Hubbard squash, for the better taste.

Most of the pumpkin around has been developed and refined for Halloween decorations. As Matron mentioned, there are other "non-traditional" varieties with better taste. Although - I have made pumpkin pie, from the pumpkin, and was satisfied with the taste. The texture, that wasn't as smooth as the commercial cans, but the pies were still pretty good.

In the future I should be satisfied, for pies, with squash and sweet potatoe.