Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pickled Pumpkin

Since I am off to Hershey, Pennsylvania for the Mid Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Growers Convention for a few days I had to jump up bright and early to present you with my canning adventure this week... 
I have to admit I always giggle to myself any time someone says, "Oh I'm waiting to get a pumpkin because I want it to be fresh."
Pumpkins are a storage item. This past year we picked all of our pumpkins in 2 rounds...unlike most other items that were picked on a daily or bi-daily basis.  So freshness of a pumpkin isn't like the freshness of leaf lettuce that has the shelf life of about 2 minutes at a hot Farmers' Market.  

A well cured pumpkin...one that has good color and a dark green stem will last for months! Potentially through the whole winter if kept in a cool, dry place like a basement (as long it isn't a damp scary basement). 

Which brings me to the reason I'm talking about pumpkins at the end of January....

I had one last gorgeous little sugar pumpkin left sitting on a pallet in my basement where we keep our winter stash of potatoes and winter squash.  I felt like today was the day to turn that little beauty into something.  

Pickled Pumpkin was my creation of choice.  I ended up playing with two recipes one which was a sweet and sour recipe and the other a standard pickle recipe.  

I'm planning to use these pickled cubes at my annual Birthday Dinner Party (St. Patrick's Day!) to put over a salad with some blue cheese, french fried onions, and a really nice light vinaigrette.

A few other notes: I used 2 lbs of pumpkin per batch and made 2 separate batches - each batch made two pint jars.  Also I used the liquid quantities from the Mrs. Wages recipe which ended up being a little short on juice! So I had to make an extra batch of brine.  
Pickled Pumpkin
2 lbs sugar pumpkin 
1 tbsp pickling salt
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp pickling spice
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper flakes
juice from 1/2 lemon

Remove seeds from your pumpkin.  Peel, remove any soft fibrous "stuff" still remaining on the inside and chop into small cubes.  

Place in a bowl and toss with the pickling salt.  Set to the side for 2 hours.  

Sterilize your jars and get them ready to be processed. 

After 2 hours....Drain liquid and rinse pumpkin and set to the side. 

Start making the brine by combining vinegar, water, sugar, spices, and lemon juice.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. 

Pack pumpkin into cleaned jars (keep in mind 1/2 head space).  Add brine to the jars.  In the spirit of experimentation I allowed the spices into the 2 of the jars and used a strainer as recommended by the Mrs. Wage's recipe.

Remove air bubbles well, wipe rims, and screw on lids.  Process for 10 minutes.  Remove from water and let sit for 24 hours.  Check seals.  Let pumpkin "pickle" for 10 days before eating.   

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