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Canning Pumpkin

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

I bought three huge pumpkins yesterday from the grocery store. These pumpkins have been there a very long time, and I finally decided to grab them and can them.

First step is to cut them in half and "gut" them. Remove all seeds and "threads". I used a tablespoon to scrape the inside of each pumpkin half.

Once it's nice and clean, the pumpkin is ready to go into the oven.

I baked these ones at 375F for an hour each piece. I couldn't fit more than one half in the oven at a time. Roasting them this way helps remove the peel, and by placing them upside down, it keeps the meat from drying out in the oven. It also jump starts the cooking process.

Here you can see the peel coming off of the pumpkin. You can either scrape it off with a fork, or a knife. Sometimes it just lifts clear off the meat.

Chop up the meat and place it into a covered pot on the stove top. Because I still had so much more pumpkin to bake before it could get to the pot, I kept the heat med-low. I also added a cup of water to help the cooking process start. You don't want the pumpkin burning to the bottom of the pot as it puree's down.

I love this "magic wand". It's one kitchen gadget I would have to go out and replace immediately if I were to loose this one. I did use the potato masher - just off to the right in the picture - to start mashing the pumpkin as it cooked. but this wand helped turn it into smooth puree in almost no time. Of course, you can't use these until the pumpkin is well cooked and falling apart on it's own.

Wonderfully smooth puree ready for the jars.

I tend to keep things clean and simple when I can them. Minimal additives. I can always add stuff later when I use them. For pumpkin puree, the only thing I add is fresh squeezed lemon juice. I add this to EVERYTHING I can - it works as a preservative.

While all of this was going on, I sterilized my glass jars - I use my dishwasher for this. I keep the sterilized jars in the warm dishwasher until it's time to fill them. I also sterilized my lids and tools - I do this in the boiling water bath that I've started by now to process the filled jars.

Using my canning tools, I fill each jar, and put a lid on it. Once I have enough jars filled, they go into the boiling water to process them.

Finally, pull the jars out of the boiling water and set them aside to dry and to seal. You will hear the lids "popping" as they seal. If they don't seal, you can put them through the boiling water bath again. I've never had to do that - I've been pretty lucky.

This batch made 27 pint jars, plus an additional 1.5Liters of pumpkin puree that's in the fridge to use right away - I ran out of jars. lol

Now I have lost of pumpkin puree to use for baking, or even making pumpkin coffee creamer. There is no sugar or spices added to these ones - they are a blank slate to use any way I want to when the time comes.


Thanks to informed sparkfriends, I have found out that there is a danger in home canning pumpkin puree

Now I'm trying to figure out what to do with these pints of pumpkin. How can I check if they are safe? Can I check if they are safe? Should I store the outside so they freeze for the winter?

Argh! One thing I know, I won't be using these ones until I figure it out.

I found more information.

The toxin (that is produced in anaerobic conditions) can only be destroyed by boiling; so if there is any doubt, boiling the food for 20 minutes after opening the jars adds an additional measure of safety, although this is not always practical. Colorado State University says:

As an added precaution, boil all home-canned vegetables and meats without tasting for 10 minutes plus one minute per 1,000 feet above sea level (15 minutes at 5,000 feet). Boil home-canned spinach and corn 20 minutes before tasting. If the food looks spoiled, foams or has an off odor during heating, discard it.

It's not 100% fool proof, but it's an additional level of protection.

This on top of the 1-2 hours the puree cooked down and simmered/boiled, then the 20min+ in the boiling water bath. I'm feeling a little better about this canned pumpkin. But I don't know if I'll ever do it again!
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