Day 16: Pressure Canned Pumpkin Pieces

Pressure Canned Pumpkin Pieces
Day Sixteen (05.06.2012)
Processing: Pressure Canner 55mins (pints), 90mins (quarts)
Storage: 12 months+

Yield: 22 cups
Practicing pressure canning again today with a whole grey pumpkin (12 pounds/5.5 kilograms). You'll need approximately 1 pint-sized jar per pound of pumpkin - I used 11 pints for this pumpkin for example. The final result is soft pieces of pumpkin, perfect to add to a risotto, mash, pie or as a side to a main meal. I packed a few half-pint jars for DD7mths to sample pumpkin for the first time later this week :-)

When canning, use jars according to what you will be using them for: pints for small family sides/small servings; quarts for pumpkin pie or large family servings. You can bottle the pumpkin in water (draining and mashing when a jar is opened), in hot chicken or vegetable stock (pumpkin soup when a jar is opened), or in a light sugar syrup (pumpkin pie filling when a jar is opened). You can add salt if you wish, and any other herbs and spices you like - ie a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon for pumpkin pie filling pieces.
Do not mash or puree the pumpkin before canning: it is too dense to heat through adequately during processing and could lead to contamination. Puree/mash when you open a jar instead. Do not add cream or milk to jars.
5.5kg (12lb) pumpkin - peeled, centre removed, cut into 1 inch cubes
Boiling water OR chicken/vegetable stock OR light sugar syrup
Kosher or pickling salt [optional]
Herbs/spices [optional]
Prepare jars.
Prepare jars by covering in water and boiling for 10 minutes.

Heat stock/water.
Bring stock (chicken or vegetable) or water to a boil while you prepare the pumpkin.
Prepare pumpkin.
Cut whole pumpkin in half, scoop out the central flesh (TIP: toast the seeds for a tasty snack with a sprinkling of salt). Then slice and remove the skin before dicing into 1 inch (2.5cm) cubes. Once all of your pumpkin is cut into cubes, rinse half of the cubes and place into a stock pot and cover pumpkin pieces with water (or stock). Bring to a boil then boil for 2 minutes. Drain well, remove the pumpkin pieces with a slotted spoon into a bowl, and repeat with the remaining pumpkin pieces. Keep the hot stock to use in the jars.
Prepare lids.
While you are packing the pumpkin into the jars, place the lids into a pot of previously boiling water. Do not simmer or boil, just let the lids heat through in the few minutes while you fill the jars, removing the lids from the water when you are ready to place them onto the jars so they stay hot. 
Ladle pumpkin pieces into hot jars.
Place the prepared pumpkin pieces into your prepared hot jars: fill to 1 inch (2.5cm) from the top, then ladle hot water (or stock) to 1 inch from the top. Remove bubbles, top up with extra soup to the 1 inch headspace, wipe rims and seal.   

Pressure canner processing.
Your pressure canner needs 2 inches (5cm) of pre-boiled water in the bottom before adding the hot jars. Then place each filled jar of pumpkin pieces into the canner. Put the lid onto the canner and turn onto high heat. Once the white steam is present (constant stream), vent for 10 minutes before adding weight and bring up to pressure (10lbs weighted, 11lbs dial gauge). Adjust pressure level according to your altitude if required. Once pressure is reached, start your timer for 55mins (pints) or 90mins (quarts). Once the time is up, turn the heat off and allow pressure to return to zero. Then remove the weight and wait another 5 minutes before removing the lid and cooling jars overnight on a towel-covered bench overnight.

Next day check for seals.
Check jars have sealed before labelling and storing in a cool, dry and dark place for up to 12 months.
Serving ideas.
Heat jar contents until very hot. Puree and season with salt and pepper. Serve with a drizzle of fresh cream and crusty bread (or grilled cheese toasties). Soups are also good to use as a base for a pasta dish ie pasta bake.
Or drain pumpkin and mash with butter and cream and serve as a side to a family meal (or a topping for cottage pie).
Kaya Wanjoo. Food Preserving kaditj kalyakoorl moondang-ak kaaradj midi boodjar-ak nyininy, yakka wer waabiny, Noongar moort. Ngala kaditj baalap kalyakoorl nidja boodjar wer kep kaaradjiny, baalap moorditj nidja yaakiny-ak wer moorditj moort wer kaditj Birdiya wer yeyi.
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