Winter Pumpkin

Most of my pumpkin vines have succumbed to squash bugs or just being old. Yes, pumpkin vines do get old with yellowing leaves and smaller new vines and leaves.

Pumpkin vines have one great purpose in life: producing a ripe pumpkin. Since pumpkins are not picked until they are ripe, as soon as the first pumpkin ripens the vine has accomplished its life mission. Some kinds of plants quit growing right then. Luckily pumpkin vines are ambitious and produce more than one pumpkin.

My vines started early in the season so my pumpkins ripened early in the season. Most pumpkins ripen in October. My pumpkins will be history before then.

pumpkins in pantry

Pumpkins will keep several months in my pantry normally. That isn’t pumpkins from such a wet season. That isn’t pumpkins in warm and humid August. These must be worked up or fed to the goats.

My purpose in growing pumpkins is to eat them over the winter. That means preserving the pumpkins until I want to enjoy them as muffins, bread, cookies, pudding or pie, maybe soup.

Freezing works well. Whole pumpkins waste too much freezer space. Puree is ideal.

The first time I made pumpkin puree I boiled chunks of pumpkin until tender. The puree was bland and wet.

The next time I baked the pumpkin until tender. This works but takes a lot of time plus a hot kitchen.

pumpkin puree

Scooped out of the pumpkin shell, pumpkin pulp is chunky. I use a potato masher to break it into puree. A blender will work too.

Microwave to the rescue. Just cut the pumpkin into top and bottom halves, remove the seeds, put in a baking dish with a scant half inch of water and microwave on high until done.

I set my old microwave for five minutes at a time so I can check progress. A nice sized pie pumpkin half takes about fifteen minutes.

A soup spoon scoops out the pulp. A potato masher turns the pulp into puree. Two cups of puree [the amount I normally use at a time] goes in a quart freezer bag. Freeze the bags flat so they are easy to stack and store for later use.

puree in freezer bag

The puree is pushed out flat so most of the air is pushed out of the bag. When frozen flat, the puree stacks or lines up in a box easily for storage.

The nice thing about this pumpkin puree is how dry it is. Purchased canned puree is dryer but doesn’t contain the satisfaction of growing my own pumpkins.

Using home pumpkin puree is a bit tricky because it does contain more moisture. I add less other liquid to the recipes. The trick is to add the liquid a little at a time and mix it in until the batter or dough is right.

Once I have ten or fifteen packages of pumpkin puree in the freezer I can dream of pumpkin treats until next year’s crop ripens.