Later this month, many of us will be thinking about what we are going to do with the pumpkins we have grown or bought to use as decorations around the house. Rather than throwing them out into the field or compost pile try home food preservation!
You can dry or roast the seeds and even freeze the pulp. These are ways to further the usefulness of the pumpkin! Before you begin any of these, you need to know that pumpkin is a low acid vegetable and requires special attention to preparation and processing. It is important to use excellent sanitation procedures in handling the fresh or preserved pumpkin.
- Do not let cut pumpkin sit out at room temperature for more than 2 hours during preparation prior to preserving.
- There are no properly researched procedures to recommend for home canning of pumpkin butters or pickled pumpkin products such as salsas, chutneys, and relishes. Any of these should be served immediately or stored under refrigeration at all times.
- Pumpkins should have a hard rind and string-less mature pulp.
Drying Pumpkin Seeds
- Carefully wash pumpkin seeds to remove the clinging fibrous pumpkin tissue.
- They can be dried in the sun, in an electric dehydrator at 115-120°F for 1 to 2 hours, or baked in an oven on very low, warm temperature for 3 to 4 hours.
- Stir them frequently to avoid scorching.
- Seeds should be completely dry (crack when bent) before storage.
Roasting Pumpkin Seeds
- Dry the pumpkin seeds.
- Toss with oil and/or salt.
- Roast in a preheated oven at 250° for 10 to 15 minutes.
Freezing is really the easiest way to preserve pumpkin. You can freeze items for up to one year. Frozen pumpkin is great to use in pies, desserts, and as a vegetable. Select full-colored mature pumpkins
- Wash, cut into cooking-size sections, and remove seeds.
- Cook until soft in boiling water, in steam, in a pressure cooker, or in an oven.
- Remove pulp from rind and mash.
- To cool, place in a pan and put it in cold water and stir occasionally.
- Pack into containers, leaving ½ inch of headspace, seal, and freeze.
Thaw the pumpkin in the refrigerator before using, not on the counter.
Whether you use fresh, frozen, or canned pumpkin, there are many recipes available to you.
Written by: Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension – Pike County, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviewed by: Christine Kendle, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension – Tuscarawas County, email@example.com