Thursday, October 22, 2009


A friend gave me a few pumpkin plants in May that she had started indoors. I put them in the garden and when they grew large, I became excited about having a Halloween party with the grand daughters. One where they could pick their own pumpkin from Grandma's garden patch and carve them with Grandpa on the kitchen floor. The scene would be something right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Then Wyoming turned cold early and snow fell, and fell, and fell again, and all the garden produce was forced indoors.

Last weekend when the grand daughters came for a visit, the two oldest had to choose their pumpkin from a pile on the laundry room floor.

As I watched them intently studying the pumpkins, I remembered why I quit raising them after our children grew up. I've no root cellar. How I'd love one. Our small garage won't even do, for the eighteen below or lower temperatures penetrate its walls and freeze whatever is inside. The only place else for pumpkins, squash, and potatoes is the basement floor. We've a coal and wood stove in the basement and the warm temperature does not allow us to store produce for very long.

Do to this limited space and the warm surrounding, I've been making for years buttercup squash pies. I like pumpkins but I love buttercup squash. It is more flexible too. You can make it into soup, breads, pies, and eat it baked
in the oven with brown sugar and butter. My love of this sweet rich squash surpasses the pain of tip toeing around it for several months.

When I was raising pumpkins, I didn't have a front loading washing machine. Now every time I want to do laundry, I have to move two pumpkins to open and shut the door. What a hassle!

It was snowing outside on Tuesday and I needed to do laundry. No way was I going to move those pumpkins again and again. Instead I decided to can them even though they were a little lighter orange than I'd like.

After washing the outsides, I placed them on a cutting board slicing them in half. Then scooped out the pulp for the chickens and put the seeds in a colander.

The pumpkin halves went in the oven on a lipped industrial cooking sheet that has a small amount of water in the bottom with the oven set to 350 Fahrenheit.

In the sink, I ran water over the seeds in the colander while my hands worked through them in a rapid milking motion to dislodge the pumpkin membranes that stuck to them. A couple minutes later they sat on the stove in a pot of water with a generous helping of sea salt. I'd like to tell you the exact amounts of seeds, to water, to the sea salt but I've no idea since I've never- ever measured. Not even long ago. Take from that, that it isn't rocket science and come up with your own formula. Try a little batch at a time if your worried about the results.

All I can tell you is that I boiled them a few minutes, how many I've no idea, and then drain them in the colander. Then place them onto a cookie sheet and set them aside while the pumpkins finished cooking. The pumpkins are done when you can press down on the tops of them and they give easily. The seeds I baked at 250 Fahrenheit and cooked them until they had light brown spots on them.

The lighting on top the stove gave them this lovely pumpkin color.

While the pumpkin seeds roasted, I scooped the pulp out of the pumpkin shells and packed it into pint sized jars to pressure can at 12 pounds pressure, because of our altitude (over 5000 feet), for fifty minutes. The pumpkin pulp is very moist.

My canning book said to cut the pumpkin up into cubes, boil them, place them in the jars, and pour boiling water over them before pressure canning. No way!! I'm not loosing all that pumpkin flavor into the water. So, I came up with a way to can pumpkin minus all that watering down. That is what I've shared with you. I curious though, how do you can your pumpkin?

I've always just done the plain salted pumpkin seeds. It would be fun to branch out and experiment with maybe a Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and black pepper spiced pumpkin seeds. Do any of you have some great recipes or advice? I've plenty more pumpkins to experiment with.

This is in answer to Linda's question on the Creamy Butter blog.

Linda, I separated some milk again today. Wow, two times in a week. Just a gallon this time and I had a generous three-quarters of a quart of heavy cream. The kind where I've put the milk through once and the cream from that through once again. I hope this answers your question.

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