I still have 14 pumpkins from last year’s crop and I am told it is very difficult (impossible?) to store them over summer. Shit! I was under the impression that they could last out the year.
Oh, well, … I haven’t given up hope. Everything I have read says keep them in a cool dry place. As you all know, there is no such place during an Australian summer. The only other advice I have read to prolong their life is to wipe them with disinfectant. This protects them from bacteria. I washed my pumpkins in diluted Pine-O-Cleen, made sure they were perfectly dry, then put them in the cool room. Here’s hoping.
Postscript: I have just read this post where a pumpkin soaked in a weak bleach solution was still perfect after nine months. There is hope.
I don’t know why I am so worried about my pumpkins – I don’t much like the stuff. I like pumpkin soup and pumpkin scones and pumpkin cake but I don’t like the standard Australian fare of baked or mashed pumpkin. Most of the pumpkins we have consumed thusfar have gone into dog food. It is very good for them. It is probably good for me, too, but I don’t care.
My new found concern over the fate of my pumpkins was triggered by a post Bizzy Lizzy wrote on a sweet pumpkin dessert (from Deniz Göktürk Akçakanat’s Turkish Bakery Delight). Upon reading the post, I decided more effort was required. I have Deniz Göktürk Akçakanat’s book but was not even aware of the recipe. I had, however, photocopied and put in my “To do” file a very similar recipe for candied pumpkin from Stella Cohen’s book: Stella’s Sephardic Table: Jewish family recipes from the Mediterranean island of Rhodes. I decided to get the recipe out. It looked great – it preserved the pumpkin in a sweet syrup with ginger and almonds but required lime powder (calcium hydroxide) and I didn’t have any (and I am not so sure I want any). The lime powder firms up the pumpkin for preserving.
Next step was to go on to Eat Your Books to see if I had any other recipes. It seems I have piles of recipes for pumpkin cooked in syrup. It is, obviously, quite a popular dessert in the Middle East. I plied through all the recipes and settled on candied pumpkin from Sarah Woodward’s The Ottoman Kitchen. I still might make Stella’s – I will have to think about the calcium hydroxide a bit more or I may just omit it.
It is very, very good. I am sure most kids who are used to dried fruit would like it. It is sweet but not overly so. And the syrup that is left over tastes amazingly good in yoghurt. I am a convert.
- 1 kg of pumpkin (I started with a 1.33kg pumpkin. By the time I peeled it and took the seeds out, it was about 1kg)
- 250g sugar
- 150mls water
- Peel the pumpkin and remove the seeds. Cut the flesh into strips.
- Mix together the sugar and water in a large pan. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring all the while until the sugar dissolves.
- Add the pumpkin strips and simmer gently in the syrup for 45 minutes. Very gently stir the strips to ensure they cook evenly. Try not to break the pieces. I did very gentle lifts with an egg slide.
- Dry the pumpkin until leathery. I put my pieces on baking paper and dried them in the dehydrator. It took about a day. Alternatively, line a tray with baking paper and put them in your oven, with just the fan on, until they are dry and leathery.