Monday, November 15, 2010

Final Pumpkin Harvest and Prep

Well, after the children picked their pumpkins that were dedicated to become jack o'lanterns, and after the neighborhood kids picked out theirs, these are the pumpkins that were left in our garden to harvest. Quite a lot, I think, for a home garden. The children's pumpkins were pardoned from the slaughter; they will go to seed back in the garden bed. SR's pumpkin, Penelope, made a showing for this picture: she's the pinkish one in the back right corner. Preparing the pumpkins for the freezer was quite laborious, but now I have plenty of bagged pureed pumpkin for future dishes. Well worth the effort! See below my steps to get them from the wheelbarrow to the freezer.

This is G's wheelbarrow full of different varieties of pumpkins. He cut them all off the vine for me, which is harder than it sounds. They can stubbornly cling to the vine, and the stems of our pumpkins had spiny thorns all over them.

Washed free of loose dirt, waiting for processing. You can see some of those thorny stems I mentioned.

They were hard as rocks, unlike the ones you get at stores or pumpkin patches. So, G suggested I boil them first to soften them, much like a potato. Very ingenious. I fit as many pumpkins as I could in my largest pot and boiled for at least fifteen minutes. Some took twice as long, depending on their size. They were done when I could either stick them with a fork or a sharp knife. Be careful during this step. Use tongs to put them in the water and remove them, by their stems. Turn them over a few times while they boil. When you prick them, they release hot, liquidy bubbles. Set them aside to cool enough, so you can handle them.

This is what a boiled pumpkin looks like inside. Scoop out the guts and seeds and set aside - you can rinse and bake the seeds later. I actually have so many seeds, several cups worth, that I'm still sorting them! Yay!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wrap each pumpkin half with foil, just covering the top is fine, or wrapping the whole half is fine, too. Bake for at least an hour. If your pumpkins are soft when you get them, you can skip the boiling step and bake for an hour and half. Remove the foil and set aside for a few minutes to cool. I had all the pumpkins going in different stages: while some were boiling, others were baking. Also, some of my pumpkins were so soft after the boiling step, that they skipped the baking step and went straight into the food processor to get pureed.

Scoop out the flesh from the shell and puree in a food processor until completely smooth. Some pumpkins were still a little firm after baking; it didn't seem to matter their size. For these, I chopped first and added a couple of tablespoons of water to get them moving. Don't add too much because you don't want watery puree. If you feel they are too firm, bake them a little longer. Pretty color, don't you think?

Cool the puree enough , so you can bag it. I scooped out one cup measurements and put them in sandwich bags. I ended up with 23 cups of puree! My garden is my number one way I have saved money on groceries. If you have space for even a small pot, I highly recommend planting something to grow and eat.

Now, on with the pumpkin recipes! You should be seeing these very soon and later, as well. That's what's so nice about freezing and canning: you can have wonderful dishes from fruits and veggies that were harvested at the peak of their season and have kept their rich taste. Have fun!


  1. what a wonderful harvest...Praise The Lord!

    Can't wait to see all the great recipes you will make with them.

  2. Such great varieties !
    Funny you should mention pumpkins today- I picked up the last of the pie pumpkins at the grocery store this weekend and today I roasted them and set the seeds to soak to be roasted tomorrow. We use a lot of pumpkin here, and at lunchtime I got inspired to try a colonial inspired side- mashed pumpkin with a little real maple syrup and butter. Sort of like baked butternut squash, but more maple. I am knocking around the idea of trying to make pumpkin whole wheat noodles , just to try to take pumpkin to a new horizon. Have fun working with your bounty !

  3. What a beautiful pumpkin harvest!

    We harvested and pureed most of our pumpkins a few weeks ago, but we still have a few whole pumpkins/squashes sitting in the basement (those are the kind that are supposed to - keeping my fingers crossed ;) - stay good in room temperature for months) so, needless to say, I'm looking forward to your pumpkin recipes. ;-)

  4. Wonderful pumpkin post. Great directions and how to.

    Good job and thanks for sharing.

  5. I agree, Millie! How thankful we are!

    Diane, pumpkin noodles? Yes, that sounds great! I can hardly wait.

    Seglare, lucky girl with a basement! I think very few California, USA homes have basements, so unfortunately, that's not an option for us. I'm looking forward to seeing your recipes, too.

    Wild Magnolia, thank you!

  6. That is a spectacular harvest! And so many varieties...they are pretty before and after being pureed. Looking forward to the recipes.

  7. oh wow thats a lot of pumkin!! your vaieties ae so unusual! but..thorns ugh i never knew that! i love the feeling you get when you put lots of food by. i dont get to do it as often as i like. alhtough maybe i am forgetting how much effort goes into it... cant wait to see what types of fun stuff happens to those cute little pumpkins.

  8. Wow. You grew all those gorgeous pumpkins? You'll be enjoying pumpkin all winter, when all the hard work will reward you with deliciousness.

  9. Thanks for the pumpkin prep tips! Cooking a fresh pumpkin is one thing I want to try this fall, but I've never done it before. Enjoy your harvest!

  10. What an amazing harvest! I love growing my own veggies. I am thinking about asking my land lord if I can have a green house here. I can't wait to see your pumpkin recipes!

  11. Pumpkins are one of the things I definitely want to start growing. I always said just because buying a few for the kids to decorate were so expensive, that in itself would make it worth it. But then to be left with so much puree, definitely!

  12. Hello, Ladies!

    Rose, thanks, I thought they were pretty, too.

    Michelle, I didn't know there would be thorns, either. I was sure surprised. It was a lot of work, but that's because I had so many pumpkins. I think the results are well worth it, though.

    Actually, Andrea, I can't take credit for growing them. My girls used last year's pumpkins, let them go to seed, and grew them. I watered them, though. Does that count?

    Jessica, you're welcome! I got my baking tip from Busy Vegan Mama.

    Carissa, a green house would be great - good luck!

    Jenny, I encourage you to do it! It's definitely a money-saver.

  13. Thank you for such a detailed post and beautiful directions!!

  14. I'm assuming all this activity took place over several days.

  15. Hi M- You are ingenious to boil your pumpkins first! That is the coolest thing I have ever seen!!!!
    I will try that if my pumpkins ever grow!!!
    I am going to try and get back into blogging, this has been a crazy year! Missed talking to you and all your yummy food! I am going to go catch up and read everything I missed. I finally got a post up!

  16. Hi, Diane - you're welcome! :-)

    S.V., over several hours in one day.

    Welcome back, Brandi! Missed you too. I'm going to check out your post right now.

  17. I'm growing pumpkins next year after reading this. I had much rather have home grown pumpkin puree than store bought! :o) I can't wait to see what recipes you come up with!

  18. Oh, good luck, I hope you get a bunch!

  19. How ingenious! (Now that I've typed that, I realize that others have left you the same comment--Oh dear! But it really is ingenious!)