Saturday, September 29, 2012

Canning Pumpkin

Canning can be fun and fulfilling.  Knowing that the holiday Pumpkin Pie is made from Pumpkin made by hand and not from a store bought can is a pride.  An added benefit is the lack of packaged processing.

Pumpkins are probably the most popular of the of fall squash family.  Like many I am drawn to purchase a couple to spruce up my front lawn during Halloween and even Thanksgiving.  Drawn by my childhood I am unwilling to simply discard the oversized winter squash.  One medium sized squash can produce up to 8 pints of fresh packed pumpkin for holiday cooking.    That transforms into a lot of pumpkin pies, pumpkin cookies and even pumpkin soup.


Canning a pumpkin is a simple process
You will need:  One medium pumpkin

                           Six to eight quart canning jars
                           Food Processer or Blender
                           Large canning pot


Remove upper rack from oven.  Place remaining rack on lowest level.  Place one medium sized pumpkin on rack.  Set temperature at 250°.  Bake pumpkin for 4 hours or until it is soft to the touch.  Do not over cook.  Pumpkins tend to ooze juices when over cooked.  Allow pumpkin to cool.  Cut pumpkin in quarters.  Skin should easily peel off of pumpkin.  Discard seeds and skin and save for compost.
Place fruit of pumpkin in food processer or blender.  Allow puree completely, removing lid frequently to stir up mixture.  Add 1 tablespoon of salt for every four cups of pumpkin.  Continue process until all pumpkin has been pureed.  Pumpkin will not be as thick as store bought pumpkin. 

Place jars and lids in a large pot. Allow to boil for several minutes to thoroughly sanitize.   I like to use a large tamale pot.  It works very well, and is reasonably priced.  To avoid the cost of expensive canning jars I save every glass jar I purchase.  Once you’ve finished eating the jam ,The jar and lid can be reused to can with.

Place the fruit in the jars approximately ½ inch from the lower rim.  Seal the jar and tap the bottom several times to be sure all air bubbles are released.    Place the jars back in the pot.  Do not set the jars directly on the bottom of container.  Elevate the jars at least 6 inches to avoid too much heat cracking your accomplishment.  Allow the jars to boil for at least 20 to thirty minutes.  The elevated steam and heat activate the rubber on the lid to seal the pumpkin.  Carefully remove the jars and place on a surface that will not burn or melt.  Check the jars quite often by pushing on the center of the lip.  If the lid pops the pumpkin is not sealed.  If the jar is cooled and the lid is not sealed you can either place the jar back in the pan, or replace the lid.  If the jars are cooled and the lids do not pop you are ready to store your canned pumpkin for holiday cooking.
Split the pumpkin in half canning the first half as mentioned above
Add 2 cups brown sugar
        2 tablespoons cinnamon
        1 tablespoon nutmet
        1/2 tablespoon cloves
to the second half and follow canning directions.  You've got a pumpkin butter great spread on toast, biscuits or pancakes.

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