Working on pumpkin
Somehow, this week has turned incredibly busy. It's all good, and I love the accomplished feeling at the end of a long day, but, it's still work. :)
I canned 8 quarts of pumpkin last week, but still hadn't taken the time to post the photos I took while working on it! :)
This morning at 9:15, my mom called, asking if I wanted to do more pumpkin today. I had a headache and felt like just laying on the couch. But when do I ever feel like saying, "Sure! I'd just love a 4-5 hour project for the day! I was so bored, anyway..."? Never. So I said, "Sure!"
So, about 10:15am, one of my brothers (on his way to work) dropped off two huge canners full of halved pumpkins. Yes, I am spoiled -- I didn't even have to chop through them myself! ;)
The canners, which belong to my mom, each hold 22 quarts, and so we were able to do about 8 big pumpkins. I put 2 quarts of water in the bottom of each canner, put the lids on, and cooked them until the pumpkin was fork-tender. (The steam cooks the top pumpkins.)
Then, I scooped out the soft pumpkin inside. Yehoshua and Eliyahu played with the hard shells from some of the pumpkins while I worked. ;)
I piled my scooped-out pumpkin in a big bowl, and then drained off the excess liquid that separated. You could also put the pumpkin in a colander or strainer to strain off some of the liquid, if needed. You just don't want too much water in with your pumpkin! :)
Now, the USDA doesn't recommend canning pumpkin puree anymore, but I still do it. So... this is a post about "what I do" and I am NOT recommending that anyone follow "my" method. You can freeze your pumpkin puree; I don't have the freezer space for that, so I can mine. But anyway...
I pack the hot pumpkin into jars, about 1/2-inch from the top, and screw on the canning lids.
I don't mash or blend the pumpkin, but if you want super-smooth pumpkin puree, you can do that extra step. We've just found that in our baking and cooking, the little "strings" either disappear, or else we don't mind them. I never notice them, personally. :)
I process my jars of pumpkin in a boiling water bath for 3 hours. It usually takes at least 3-4 hours to come to a good rolling boil at medium-medium-high heat, and then I time it for 3 hours. Again, the boiling water bath is not recommended by the USDA for foods that aren't high-acid.
Here are a few of my pints of pumpkin! Last week, I canned 8 quarts of pumpkin, and today, I got just over 9 quarts. We've also made two pies, and I have enough leftover pumpkin from today that I'll be able to bake something tomorrow. I love baking with pumpkin!! And once it's canned, it is so convenient to use. We've been out of home-canned pumpkin for a while, so I'll really enjoy having some to use again. :)
My mom grew lots of pumpkins this year, so I'm hoping to do at least one more day of canning pumpkin. The fresh, home-grown food is such a blessing! :)
For more reading, here is a post from last year about using/preserving pumpkins. There are alternate cooking suggestions (like baking!) in the comments, for those of you who don't have huge pans, or want an easier method for doing just a couple pumpkins! :)