Autumn is the season characterized not only by colourful leaves floating in the air, shortening days and dropping temperature. It is also the season of harvest. One of the things harvested at the beginning of autumn is pumpkin; a plant of remarkable size, intoxicating smell and possibilities it offers in terms of subsequent use and processing. Non-edible types of pumpkin make for original natural decoration, edible types are praised not only by culinary enthusiasts but by everyone who enjoys healthy food. Pumpkin contains certain important minerals, e.g. iron, potassium or magnesium.
Pumpkin is a common name for the plant called Cucurbita pepo. It may sometimes be called common common pumpkin. In any case, it is a creeping plant of the family Cucurbitaceae, which means it is related to cucumbers, zucchinis or melons. Undemanding cultivation and fast growth make pumpkin very popular among gardening enthusiasts. At present, Hokkaido pumpkin, a Japanese variation of the plant, is gaining increasing popularity for its pleasantly sweet nutty taste. All types of pumpkin can be processed universally. Thanks to its good storage qualities, pumpkins may last fresh up to 5 months; you have to make sure the individual pieces do not touch mutually and that they are stored in a room with temperature from 10° to 19°, with ideal humidity 60-75%.
When Do We Preserve Pumpkins?
The precondition of tasty fruits is correct timing of harvest and subsequent processing. Do not leave your pumpkins outside when the first ground frost threatens to freeze them. At that point, you should definitely have your pumpkins inside your house. Of course, they have to be ripe enough which you can tell by their matted and hardened skin. It gradually forms small cracks on its stem. It is suitable to leave at least 5 cm of stem on the pumpkin; this residual stem must not get broken off or cut during further processing, otherwise microorganism and other contaminants may get inside the fruit and accelerate its decay. After harvest, we recommend letting the pumpkins dry for a bit. If there is some sunlight during the day and temperatures don't drop too low yet, you can let the pumpkins dry outside. If not, you have to use a stove or an oven. In ideal case, the pumpkin is located near the heat source in a room where temperature exceeds 30°C. If there is no such possibility, you may use a classic stove where you can keep the pumpkins to dry almost all day, provided you are careful enough and check on them often.
Preserved Pumpkin Recipes
The most popular way of processing pumpkins is preserving. Pumpkins are able to "soak in" surrounding smells and tastes which makes it perfect for culinary use. In the Czech Republic, preserving fruits and vegetables is a tradition; some family recipes and secrets about it are passed from one generation to another. In this article, we bring you selected recipes for pumpkin preservation that are definitely worth trying. Naturally, the classic pumpkin compote is a must! The amount of ingredients stated in recipes is subject to change according to your taste and need.
Pumpkin Dressed As A Pineapple or A Traditional Pumpkin Compote
- ca 2.5 to 3 kg cleaned pumpkin
- 600 to 750 g sugar
- 0.25 l vinegar
- 6 pcs clove
- 1 to 2 lemons
- 1 bag vanilla sugar
- 1 to 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 to 2 tsp pineapple extract
How to prepare a pumpkin compote?
Chop the cleaned pumpkin into tiny cubes (ca 1 to 2 cm long) and put them into a pot with water and vinegar. All pieces must be submerged. It is best to prepare a pumpkin in the evening like this and then continue in the morning. The vinegar will rid the pumpkin of its idle taste. On the following day, drain the pumpkin water to use it later. Boil both types of sugar in this water, add clove, cinnamon, a sliced lemon including the skin but without the pips. Let the mixture boil for a while to allow the ingredients to release their flavours and mix together. Then, add the prepared pumpkin cubes and the pineapple extract. Boil everything on low to medium flame until the cubes become glassy and soft; stir the mixture occasionally. Be careful not to let the cubes over boil and fall apart. Subsequently, place the cubes into prepared jars and pour the pickle over them. The pumpkin must always be submerged. Finally, boil them in a pot at 80°C for 20 minutes.
Pumpkin Jam with Apples
- 1 kg pumpkin meat
- 1 kg apples
- 1 to 2 lemons
- 1.5 to 2 kg preserving sugar
- 3 to 4 packs of vanilla sugar
- juice out of 1 lemon
How to Prepare Pumpkin Jam with Apples
First, clean the pumpkin and rid it of pips, then chop the meat into cubes (1 cm long). Remove the skin and cores from apples and chop them into cubes as well. Boil both the pumpkin and the apples in water until they are soft. Do not pour additional water. Add both types of sugar and lemon juice. Keep stirring everything constantly and let the mixture boil for at least 5 more minutes. Finally, put everything into jars and boil for 20 minutes at temperature 80-85°C.
- 1.5 kg pumpkin
- 4 to 6 onions (medium size)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 tomato purée
- ground ginger
- hot paprika
- ground sweet paprika
- soy sauce
How to Preserve Pumpkins in the Chinese Way
Peel the pumpkin and chop it into cubes. Then process the other ingredients; use the lard to fry the roughly chopped onions, add sliced garlic and make the tastes mix. Then add the roughly into the mix, add spices (1 or 2 teaspoons each) and finish with adding soy sauce and salt. Let the mixture stew for at least 30 minutes, add the tomato purée and boil for another 10 minutes. Finally, put the mixture into pre-heated jars, close, turn upside down and let cool down.
The Principles of Preserving (Not Only Pumpkins)
When preserving pumpkins and other cultivated fruits, we need to keep certain principles in mind as they help us avoid failures and disappointments. The essential thing is to have a pot of sufficient size (or a special preservation pot with a grid and a thermometer). Put a dishcloth or another piece of textile on its bottom. You must insert the jars carefully and make sure they don't touch each other. Then add warm water (approximately up to half height of the jars) and carefully warm it up to the required temperature. It must never boil. During the preservation process, jars are removed with special preservation pinchers and are left to cool off on a wooden pad. When cooled, put them upside down to verify that the lids are sealed.
When preserving pumpkin, you need to use only healthy and quality fruits; the fruits with even the slightest hint of damage (e.g. by pests, etc.) are not suitable. You also need to pay great attention to the preparation of jars and lids. They must be thoroughly washed and dried. However, forget drying the jars with a dishcloth as it will leave miniature hairs on the jar and pose a great risk to successful preservation. Never forget to label the jars so that you know when they were preserved and avoid passing expiration.
Preserving pumpkin is popular as it allows us to enjoy pumpkins during the winter and spring... all the way until the next harvest. There are even cases when a jar of preserved fruit is good even after 2 or 3 years or even longer. When preserving pumpkin, make frequent check-ups and make sure no unwanted processes are taking place in jars. You may adapt your preserved pumpkins to any taste you would like to achieve, that is why it is no problem to prepare pumpkin tasting like cucumbers, apricots or peaches. So enjoy your pumpkin preservation sessions and don't be afraid to make variations to nibble upon whenever you want to.