We drove up north last week to retrieve our award winning produce from the Duquoin State Fair. Nathan wanted the experience of entering stuff in the fair so that we could show our daughters what it is all about (they have been eager to enter stuff at the fair but have only recently become of age). He entered four different produce categories and placed 1st in three of them, he got 2nd place for eggplant and first place for his Fairytale Pumpkin, his pickling cucumbers and his hot peppers.
We realized just before getting the prized pumpkin home that we’ve exhausted our frozen abundance of pumpkiny goodness from last year and *gasp* in our blur of activity this growing season I’ve overlooked planting pie pumpkin! Actually we didn’t even plant the huge field of pumpkin & squash at all this year. No time.
Plus, we had truckloads of pumpkin last year, more than we could sell or eat so the livestock ate fall pumpkiny goodness through much of the winter!
Our basement is quite ideal for pumpkin and squash storage so we put up lots of spaghetti squash, butternut, sweet meat squash, pie pumpkin and of course fairytale pumpkin. Our last years harvests are still keeping great down there almost a year later but the supply is quite low. All we have left is spaghetti squash, one sweat meat squash and the fairytale pumpkin we just got back from the fair.
We have several pumpkin and squash plants slowly growing around the house this year but they are first for our CSA families shares, if we have extra we’ll put some up in the basement for ourselves… And suddenly I’m in a fall pumpkin panic! I actually blame the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte I had last monday (I know, I get crunchy shame for drinking it. I’m fine with that, it was soooo good).
In the fall we do basically everything pumpkin. The first scents and tastes of pumpkin send me straight into an excited holiday prep countdown. I love fall. We eat pumpkin donuts, drink pumpkin coffee, make pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin waffles, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin soup, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie of course- so not having an abundance of pumpkin kind of worries me!
Just to be sure we had pumpkin on hand for the future I set out to preserve our fairytale pumpkin and sweet meat squash. FYI: Sweet meat has “squash” in the name but it’s actually interchangeable as a pumpkin in all pumpkin baking recipes, read more about it here. It’s sweet and just as good as a pie pumpkin.
So far I’ve gotten halfway through doing the sweet meat and I’m beat! It is a whopping 16 pounds and did I mention it’s almost a year old? I peeled and chopped 8 pounds of it so far and got 7 quart sized jars full of pumpkin cubes.
I think I’ll hold off a bit on doing the fairytale pumpkin because it weighs about 55 pounds… I don’t have that many canning jars or that much time currently. I’m secretly hoping the fairytale pumpkin just keeps until November when we can eat from it all month, I’m sure it will 😉
For those of you interested in preserving your own pumpkin I used the following pumpkin canning procedure from http://www.sbcanning.com/2011/10/canning-for-fall-squash-pumpkin-and.html
Pie Pumpkins & Winter Squash Canning
These are from the National Center for Home Preserving website.
Quality: Pumpkins and squash should have a hard rind and stringless, mature pulp of ideal quality for cooking fresh. Small size pumpkins (sugar or pie varieties) make better products. For why we say not to mash or puree the squash, read more about the caution.
Procedure: Wash, remove seeds, cut into 1-inch- wide slices, and peel. Cut flesh into 1-inch cubes. Boil 2 minutes in water. Caution: Do not mash or puree. Fill jars with cubes and cooking liquid, leaving 1-inch headspace. For making pies, drain jars and strain or sieve cubes.
What is your favorite sight, smell or fall tradition, is it pumpkin?