Monday, October 01, 2012

Don't drool on your keyboard...

Approximately half the pumpkins waiting for processing
Every fall I look for good deals on winter squash so I can freeze puree for use in recipes throughout the rest of the year. (One of our favorite recipes for this is my adaptation of Farmgirl's Spicy Pumpkin Pecan Raisin Muffins, which I make with our own dried cherries instead of raisins, all whole-grain flour, and less fat; mmmm....) Well, yesterday I was blessed with an abundance of free sugar (pie) pumpkins; wooHOO! Unfortunately, freezer space is in short supply here this year thanks to berries (our own, and the 155# of blueberries Rick decided we needed to pick at a client's farm), dried prunes (which I'm still dehydrating), and the various and sundry things we use that I find on sale and store there.

What to do? Obviously, it's time to learn to use a new-to-me tool.

I got this pressure canner from a church member for $10 years ago but have never used it. Water-bath canning and I are old friends; pressure canning intimidates me. Don't ask me why; I use a pressure cooker for beans all the time. (Oh yeah; it's that whole BOTULISM thing!) ANYway, the canner came with a new rubber gasket and pressure fitting thingy; I have no idea if the old ones are bad and need to be replaced, or if I can just dive in and use it as is. (I tried to remove the old gasket and it didn't want to cooperate at all.) So I'm going to dive in and prepare a seven-pint batch; I think I can find that much room in my freezer if the pressure canning fails this time around.

Speaking of Farmgirl Fare, this weekend I tried another of her recipes that was a smash hit. I needed something to take to a potluck picnic yesterday and had just enough zucchini remaining to make a double batch of 100% Whole Wheat Coconut Zucchini Bread (this shows just how much I trust her culinary talent; I'm confident enough to double a recipe I've never tried before!). We had one loaf for breakfast and I took the other to the picnic. Oh MAN; there is not a CRUMB of that delectable stuff left! How unfair is it to have discovered this recipe at the very END of zucchini season??? Waaaahhh!

Thankfully, we are not yet at the end of fresh tomato season; the other recent addition to my recipe box from Farmgirl is just as "musty." I made another batch last Friday; Brian was a great help this time by cutting up all the tomatoes for me.

Now he and I are off to peel and cook pumpkins. We'll be having curried pumpkin soup – another favorite winter squash recipe – for supper!

Happy October, from . . .

18 comments:

Tombstone Livestock said...

hmmm, Free pumpkins, puree, roasted pumpkin seeds, seeds to plant next year too. Good Score.

Mama Pea said...

What a lucky-duckie you are to be the recipient of those pie pumpkins! I planted them in my garden this year, but have only a grand total of 10 of them waiting out there to (hopefully) mature completely before frost knocks 'em dead. Your sweet bread recipe descriptions sound loverly. Mmmmm, yum!

re'New said...

Used to be you could take your pressure canner into the local extension agent/ home economist and they would test it for you so that you are sure to create safe to eat foods. Who knows if that is still the case.... all these budget cuts you know.

Michelle said...

Yep, we're going to enjoy the seeds, too!

Michelle said...

Your 10 is far more than I've ever been able to produce in my garden, so you can imagine how thankful I am for the freebies.

Michelle said...

Thanks for the great tip! We have an extension office in town; I'm going to call them right now.

Michelle said...

I just called; they check the pressure gauge for free. I'll be taking the lid in just as soon as I can!

Sharon said...

Freezer space here is nonexistent as well, but I don't have the abundance you do. I'd be terrified to pressure can. I'm afraid of my pressure cooker as it is.

Susan said...

Wah! I have major pie pumpkin envy! I ended up with a total of two LI Cheese pumpkins! Do not fear the Pressure Canner - it is your friend, LOL!

melanie said...

And the SHEEP don't get any of the pumpkin bounty?? Just sayin".....

Kelly said...

I get all kinds of left over pumpkins after the Halloween season is done....and my sheep get then all. I love the orange noses in late fall!!! :)

Michelle said...

Kelly and Melanie, I'd happily give my sheep all the carving pumpkins I come across, but these little sugar pumpkins belong to MEEEEEEEE!

Laura said...

I'm very envious. I have a pumpkin soup recipe that's Caribbean - spicy, not sweet, and it's the perfect thing for cold winter days/nights. I have two large pumpkin-like squashes on my counter that I need to process (I have some room in my freezer still), but I've always wanted to make a massive quantity of the soup and can it. I'm friends with my pressure canner - I did 20-odd chickens a couple of years ago. I would replace the gasket on yours, as well as have the extension service check the gauge, before using it. The conventional wisdom is to have the gauge checked every year. I'm not sure how tough it is to check - you might be able to hook it up to a air hose with a tire gauge on it and check its accuracy that way...

Thistle Cove Farm said...

those pumpkins look delicious; are they sweet, for pies?

Michelle said...

Send me your recipe, Laura!

Michelle said...

Sandra, I was told they are sugar "pie" pumpkins, but I made pumpkin curry with some last night and the flavor was disappointing – bland and not sweet at all. They should still make fine puree for recipes, but I won't be serving them as I would a sweetmeat squash.

Tina T-P said...

I freeze my pumpkin in quart freezer bags (in two cup lots) - flattened out - you can get a lot of those in the freezer. An Farmgirl's Pumpkin Muffins ARE the BEST - Yum! T.

majorasue said...

Just thought I'd mention - I was reading Mother Earth News yesterday. According to them (they quote the USDA), pumpkin cannot be safely canned, not even using a pressure cooker. Might want to check to be sure.