Sunday, October 9, 2011
Nothing says October like pumpkins! Jack-o'-Lanterns, autumn decorations inside and out, pumpkin pie... Pumpkin stands start cropping up all over and corn mazes, fall festivals, and harvest celebrations abound. When October arrived this year I had to have a pumpkin... or four! I didn't grow any pumpkins this year and I didn't find a harvest... I just went to the grocery store and bought a few... Next year will be different, I'm gonna grow my own... I am! Really I am!
I brought my grocery store harvest home and started the process of canning pumpkin... here's what I did...
The hardest part of preparing pumpkin for canning is peeling and cutting up the fruit (or is pumpkin a vegetable?). I started by cutting each pumpkin in half and removing the seeds and "guts."
I used an ice cream scoop to scrape out all the innards (I read that tip somewhere and it works nicely).
Once I had the seeds and stringy insides scraped out, I cut the pumpkin halves into 3 or 4 pieces and placed them in a huge stockpot (or two... or three) and added water to almost fill the pot(s).
I covered the stockpot and brought the pumpkin and water to a boil, then simmered until the pumpkin flesh was soft.
After cooking for maybe 15 minutes, I drained the pumpkin, reserving the liquid, and allowed the pumpkin to cool until it could be handled without burning my fingers.
Once the pumpkin was cool enough to handle, I peeled it (much easier to peel after cooking!) and cut it into one inch chunks. (Don't puree or mash it, apparently the USDA or FDA or somebody has deemed pureed pumpkin unsafe to can, the denseness of the puree supposedly makes it difficult to heat thoroughly enough for the home canner to safely can it... personally I have my doubts about this, but I was a good girl and followed the safety "rules"... this time)
I returned the pumpkin chunks to the stockpot, added my reserved cooking liquid back in and heated the mixture through again (about 5 minutes of cooking time)
Meanwhile, I sterilized my pint canning jars by heating them in a flat pan of water set on two stove eyes. I simmered my lids in water and kept everything hot until I was ready for them.
Using a slotted spoon, I filled the hot pint jars with pumpkin chunks, leaving a half inch headspace.
I ladled in some of the cooking liquid to fill the jar...
I removed any air bubbles by inserting my plastic air bubble tool (a butter knife works just as well) between the inside of the jar and the pumpkin. I adjusted the half inch headspace by adding more liquid as needed.
I wiped the jar rim and tightened the lids and rings on to fingertip tightness.
Pumpkin, being a low acid food, must be pressure canned. I placed my filled jars into my pressure canner (follow the directions that come with your pressure canner). I processed my pint jars at 10 pounds of pressure for 55 minutes (quarts would be processed for 90 minutes).
After processing, I removed the canner from the heat and let the pressure drop to ZERO... then removed the jars from the canner and set them on a folded dish towel on the counter to cool and to listen for the PING of each successfully sealed jar.
Visions of pumpkin pies, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin crunch, and my favorite pumpkin roll fill my mind! Can't wait to whip up all my autumn recipes with my home canned orange loveliness... Pumpkin!
Simple delicious pumpkin to use for a myriad of recipes!