Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Who's Got The Pumpkin?

On Tuesday I cooked the first of our two Halloween pumpkins.  Since Sunday the second one has been parked on a section of newspaper right next to the front door.  Now, almost a week later, it was time to do something with it.  Other than cooking and pureeing it, I wasn't sure what that could be. I really don't need more pumpkin puree, but I can't stand to throw anything edible away.

Then I read a post from Nancy at Life in the Second Half, talking about her new dehydrator.  All of a sudden a light bulb went on.  I have a dehydrator, which I've used on all types of foods. Would it work on pumpkin?  Minutes later I was Googling the subject.  My search led me to the Website of the National Center for Home Food Preservation.  They had information on every conceivable way to preserve pumpkins, including drying.  The steps:
  • Peel, then remove seeds and fibers from pumpkin
  • Cut pumpkin into strips no more than one-inch wide by 1/8-inch thick
  • Steam strips for 3 minutes, then put into ice water to stop the blanching action
  • Remove from water
  • Dry the strips until brittle
Time for a project.  I don't do particularly well peeling hard-shelled squash, but I managed to complete the process relatively unscathed, only sacrificing one of my fingernails to the cause.  It was hard to slice the firm pumpkin into even-sized strips, but I did the best I could. I got out a big pot, poured a couple of inches of water in the bottom, set the steamer basket in the pot, and put the whole thing on the stove. When the water boiled, I filled the steamer and set the timer for three minutes. (I ended up adding an additional thirty seconds to the steaming time, because my pieces still seemed a bit crunchy after three minutes.)  After they were cooked, I dumped the pieces into a bowl of cold water, drained them, and arranged them on the dehydrator trays.

It only took a third of my 18" diameter pumpkin to fill the four trays. Because I just wanted to be done with pumpkin-processing, I steamed the leftover portion.  I pureed part of that, but decided to experiment with putting some of the pieces in the freezer.    I don't think squash freezes well, but I might be pleasantly surprised.

This was by far the easiest thing I've dehydrated, and I'd certainly try it again. The first strips were ready to take out after three hours, and I was cleaning the dehydrator an hour and a half after that. My four trays yielded about two cups of dried crunchy-but-chewy pieces, which will be good for throwing in a pot of soup or eating on the go.


  1. Great idea! So easy to just add it to something that you're cooking. That's what I like about dehydrating - no running to the store for items you already have on the shelf. My daughter wants to use it for all the items that end up in the garbage from her CSA box that comes once a week.

  2. Butternut squash freezes very well . I use it all the time. It cooks so much faster after it has been frozen. I guess it breaks down the fibers. I put it in the microwave with brown sugar, ubtter, and cinnamon. Makes a great dish for the holidays.

  3. What a great idea!! Maybe even I could do this! ha ha ha
    Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Very interesting! I've never tasted dried pumpkin!

  5. I suppose you know what i will be doing tomorrow ......

  6. I think dehydrating veggies is catching on...I think I'll give this a try. Thanks.

  7. Wow good for you! With all the cooking and baking I do and even with me writing a cookbook, I'm still to lazy to do what you did! I'm much rather open up a can of Libby's already canned pumpkin! :) But hey, maybe you'll inspire me to do it next year!