how to preserve pumpkin

How to Preserve Pumpkin

It’s definitely pumpkin season and while they make great fall decorations, what do you do with excess pumpkin? Today we’re going to look at how to preserve pumpkin in a variety of ways, so you can choose your favorite method. It really all comes down to what you want to do with the pumpkin when all is said and done. So, without further adeiu, let’s take a look at your options.

How to Freeze Pumpkin

Pumpkin is very easy to freeze, either cooked or raw. If you wish to use it in recipes where you’ll need chunks of pumpkin, I suggest freezing raw. To do this, you’ll need to cut the pumpkin into sections, remove all the seeds and cut the flesh into 1 inch pieces. Remove any skin (I find it simplest to do this after the fact, but you can peel the pumpkin before cutting).

Next, you’ll spread the pumpkin chunks on a sheet pan and freeze until solid. Add to a container or zipper bag and return to the freezer. This method means you won’t have to separate bits that have frozen together!

If you prefer to preserve your pumpkin cooked and in puree form, just cook it the way you normally would, either by baking or boiling, steaming, etc. Scoop out the flesh and blend in a food processor to get it nice and smooth. You can then add pre-measured amounts to a freezer container or bag. I like to add it to a bag and then squish out the air and seal, then flatten it. This lets you stack or place the bags upright in the freezer.

Another tip, if you plan to make pie or anything spiced, go ahead and spice it now in puree form, then blend and freeze. You just need to thaw and you have the filling almost ready to go. Just make sure you don’t forget to label the containers!

How to Dry Pumpkin

With freezing produce, there’s always the worry that you’ll lose power and anything in the freezer will be ruined. With that in mind, you may prefer to dry your pumpking in order to preserve it. This is relatively simple, if you have a food dehydrator.

Usually, you’ll want to dry pumpkin in small pieces or slices. Remove the peel, seeds, and any stringy bits from the center of the pumpkin and cut into half inch pieces or thin slices. Dip or soak in water with a squeeze of lime to prevent darkening.

Lay these out on the food dehydrator trays and set the dehydrator to 150° F or so. You will need to dehydrate the pieces for 10ish hours, longer if necessary to get the pieces crunchy hard. Store in a cool dark place inside an air-tight container.

Another way to dry pumpkin is to make a puree. You can cook the pumpking, then blend it until smooth and pour it over fruit leather trays for the dehydrator (or use a piece of parchment paper!). Dehydrate at 150°F for 7-8 hours or until it is leathery, but no longer sticky.

I like to do pumpkin leather with some added fruit or berries to make it a nutritious snack, but you can also make it plain and rehydrate for soups or to place on bread.

How to Freeze Dry Pumpkin

If you are lucky enough to have a freeze dryer, you have yet another option to preserve your pumpkin. This will allow you to keep the pumpkin ready to use without refrigeration.  Just peel and removes seeds, then slice the pumpkin thinly and place in the freeze dryer. How long it takes to process will depend on the machine you have, so check your manual.

It’s also a good idea to pre-cook your pumpkin chunks and freeze dry them, or make your puree and freeze dry that.  These finished products may be put into an airtight container to save them.

How to Can Pumpkin

Pumpkin is a a low-acid food, so it must be pressure canned. If you aren’t comfortable with pressure canning, you should probably choose one of the other options here.

To process the pumpkin, remove the seeds, cut into 1″ cubes and peel. Cook in boiling water for just a couple of minutes and add to hot jars. Don’t squish the cubes, but lightly press them into the jars. Add enough of the cooking water to the jars to fill with one inch of headspace. Add your lids and rings, then pressure can at 15 lbs. of pression. Quart jars will need 90 minutes, while pints can be done in 55 minutes.

Just a note, you should not can pumpkin puree, as it’s not tested and approved yet.

How Do You Preserve Pumpkin?

What’s the best choice for you? That depends on your equipment and how you want to use your pumpkin. If you know your electricity is fairly stable or have a backup generator, you can freeze your pumpkin for easy thawing and use.

However, it’s also a good idea to have some options that will not rely on having a functional freezer. This is why you need to consider canning, freeze drying, or drying.

Which method do you prefer? Comment below!


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