As we have a house full of pumpkins and oranges. Just missing carrots for the trifecta. 🙂
I was lucky enough to be able to purchase several Jap and Butternut pumpkins at a bargain price and so I have been busy dicing, roasting until soft and then pressure canning pumpkins today.
Pumpkin is a low acid vegetable and MUST be pressure canned so I’ve got the trusty Presto canner on Ignisa who is currently pumping out the heat like nobodies business (it’s nearing 30C inside the house) and Preston the canner is sitting smugly at 15PSI. It’s awesome to know that I can pressure can or bottle if the electricity is out. 😀
I followed the instructions found here and here and I’ve been extra careful with my sterilisation too. The safety key to canning pumpkin is that you can NOT PUREE IT! Whether it’s pumpkin puree for those who make pumpkin pies etc or for soup which is more familiar here in Australia, I repeat. DO NOT PUREE your pumpkin. The people in the know believe that pureed pumpkin is too thick to allow the heat to penetrate and the middle of the can may not reach safe temperatures. This means it is at risk of botulism. Not safe. 🙂
I chose to cook my pumpkin in the oven, being the easiest and most enviro-friendly way to cook bulk pumpkin. I ended up using both Ignisa’s oven and the electric one though so not sure it was as eco as I’d planned. Still, I managed something like 4 Butternuts and 5 or 6 Jap pumpkins so all in all it’s not too bad I don’t think. I also baked bread whilst I was at it, although all in Ignisa’s belly. I’d made up a bulk amount of dough so ended up baking 6 loaves. Gifts, not for eating. I owe some bread in reply for other favours. Bartering is the best. 🙂
So anyway, as I sit here sweating and sweltering on this winter’s day I am excited to now that I have pumpkin ready cooked for pumpkin soup. I can dice up the onions and fry them off with garlic or Thai curry paste or whatever other flavours I fancy for the day, tip in a size #31 or 2 #20’s (Fowlers Vacola Jars, approximately quart and pint sizes respectively), puree then heat to 100C and keep it there for 10 minutes (just in case) before serving. Pumpkin soup with a Thermomix is no big deal really but the difference between 15 minutes of “I’m hungreeeeeeee” versus 35 minutes is profound. 😉
Well it took me until just after 1am to run 3 lots of diced pumpkin through the pressure canner. I also have 2 containers of diced and lightly roasted pumpkin frozen and a huge batch of pumpkin soup frozen too. Needless to say we have enough pumpkin stored up for a while. 🙂 Oh, and with the 3 remaining Jap pumpkins and 1 small butternut, plus the other 2 I have on the deck table outside, we are likely to still have plenty of pumpkin still when Halloween rolls around (mid Spring in this neck of the woods). 😀
With the pumpkin order also came oranges, lemons and limes. Just 1kg of lemons and I plan to preserve these in salt Moroccan style for chicken dishes. Delicious! 🙂 The 40kgs of oranges however are mostly Valencia’s for juicing. Waking at 5 again this morning (believe me it was not willingly) and with Jas also awake and unwilling and unable to get back to sleep we got started just before 6 on juicing them for bottling. Jas was my chief sorter as there were also some navel oranges included in the mix. Jas sorted the “belly button” oranges into 1 sack and the remaining oranges, all were sliced in half, hand juiced on the reamer and then bottled. I have just over 10 litres of organic orange juice and space once again on my kitchen floor. 😀 And it only took us about 4 1/2 hours.
The navel oranges will be used for fresh juicing, for making a cake or just for eating as is. Bottled juice is nice enough (half sweet like fresh juiced oranges and half tangy like purchased juice) but there really is nothing like fresh juice except maybe juice made from oranges picked fresh off the tree. These are very fresh as they were picked just last week but I wonder if it tastes better from oranges still warm from the sunshine. 🙂 This is the recipe I followed here. I will also be keeping the skins and pith for homemade vitamin C powder (recipe here) to help us keep the winter bugs away. It’s also good for treating a headache surprisingly. Waste not want not and I should only end up with a little bit of pulp left over which I’m sure Anna and the chooks and ducks will love. I call that a win. 🙂 They also scarfed down the pumpkin skins that I chopped up in Thermy. Pumpkin seeds are apparently a natural wormer and there were quite a few seeds included along with the skins. 🙂 I wonder if eating pumpkin would result in either pumpkin flavoured milk or orange milk? 😉
So, onto the lemons we go. If the rain stops I have a post hole to dig and the post to set in but it won’t be much fun out there even with an oilskin coat. I think I will stick with the preserving today. 🙂