Sunday, January 5, 2014

How to Cube a Pumpkin for Canning or Freezing

One of the challenges to using pumpkin or hard squashes for me has been the difficult feat of removing the outer skin.  The common approach has been to bake it in the skin and peel or scrape it out.  This is not great for canning or freezing for stews because it makes the results far too mushy.  Here is a way that allows for beautifully firm pumpkin:

1. Cut your pumpkin in half and scrape out the stingy guts and seeds. It does not have to be perfectly cleaned out.

2. Cut the two pieces in half twice more resulting in manageable pieces.

Jarrahdale Pumpkin, one of my favorites.  It has an amazing flavor and lasts forever.
3. Slice into inch thick slices. Cut slices into inch size cubes.

4. Slice the gut side off and then slice the skin side off. If the cube is still too large for your purposes (like if you are freezing it for stews and want a bite size), then slice it in half again.

5. Drop it into water with lemon added until you are ready to freeze or can.  If your pumpkin is older and the flesh has lost some firmness, putting it in water will rehydrate it, often making it firmer. You can either freeze or can at this point. To freeze, drain and put in freezer bags and freeze.  I add it to stews I make in the crockpot.  To can, drain and fill a quart jar with pumpkin. Some people precook their pumpkin by boiling for two minutes at this point but I do not.  I have done it both ways and it makes very little difference.  Not boiling makes the pumpkin tend to float a little more but that does not bother me and it is not worth the hassle to prevent.  Add clean boiling water to jars.  Pressure can quarts for 90 minutes at 11 lbs and pints for 55 minutes at 11 lbs.  I use the canned pumpkin for pumpkin bread or pumpkin brownies which my kids love.

To make pumpkin brownies, use one box brownie mix and one quart of pumpkin.  Drain pumpkin and mash with a fork, drain again any extra liquid that mashing releases. Mix with brownie mix and bake according to box directions.  It makes fudge type brownies that are far healthier. My kids beg for me to make these.

I use all types of pumpkin to can and freeze, even the carving pumpkins from Halloween. They all work and are tasty in recipes.

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