Saturday, 5 December 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.