I love making pickles and stumbled across an old pickled pumpkin recipe a few years ago. Using the recipe as a starting point, I made some changes and came up with this. The pickles taste like crunchy cold pumpkin pie – and are a yummy alternative to the ultra-sweet gift basket offerings you usually see. NOTE: this takes a couple of days from beginning to end so plan your time accordingly. Also, if you’ve never canned anything before, you may want to check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation for a crash course. http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/veg_pick.html
- Yield: about 4 pints
- Difficulty: Medium
- Total: a couple days – give or take
- Active: 1 hour
- 1 5 pound pie pumpkin (avoid the monster pumpkins used for carving – too stringy)
- kosher salt (do NOT use iodized table salt)
- 2 cups sugar plus 3 cups sugar
- 1 cup white vinegar plus 3 cups vinegar (may use a mix of white and apple cider)
- 1 Tbs whole cloves
- 1 stick cinnamon plus 4 sticks cinnamon
- 1 Tbs whole allspice
- powdered alum
- canning jars, bands and lids
- Peel and seed the pumpkin and cut into 1 inch cubes. Put in a glass bowl, pour water over to cover and add 4 tablespoons kosher salt for each quart of water. Leave the pumpkin overnight or for at least 5 hours.
- Next day, drain the pumpkin cubes and rinse them well. Rinse the bowl well and put the pumpkin back into the bowl. In a medium pan, combine 1 quart water, 2 cups of sugar, 1 cup of vinegar, 1 Tbs whole cloves, 1 stick cinnamon and 1 Tbs allspice. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. This is a syrup so be careful that it doesn’t boil over or you’ll have a mess on your stove. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the syrup over the drained, rinsed pumpkin. Let stand in a cool place overnight (refrigerator is fine, but bring to room temp prior to packing into jars)
- The next day, get your jars and lids ready: Fill your canning pot (or any large stockpot) halfway with water and bring to a boil. Put your canning jars into the pot (either using your canning rack or a pair of tongs) and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Lids and bands can be sterilized separately in another pot of simmering water. You want the jars dry when you fill them so after the ten minutes, remove the jars with tongs and place on a clean, dry towel. Lids and bands can sit in the water until you’re ready. Make sure you have several ultra-clean, lint-free towels on hand. A wide-mouth canning funnel is very helpful, but not necessary. Keep the water in the canning pot boiling while you finish the next steps.
- Remove the pumpkin cubes from the syrup and distribute the cubes among your sterilized canning jars, filling the jars up to within 1 inch of the rim with pumpkin cubes. Break up the remaining cinnamon sticks and slide one piece down into each jar with the pumpkin.
- Pour the syrup into a saucepan and add 3 more cups of sugar and 3 more cups of vinegar. Bring back to a boil.
- Remove the syrup from the heat and ladle into the jars over the pumpkin cubes. Make sure the cloves and allspice are evenly distributed among the jars. Fill jars to within 1/2 inch of the top. Wipe the rims carefully with a damp lint-free towel and add one little pinch of powdered alum to each jar.
- Before placing lids on jars, wipe the rubber-coated outside perimeter free of water and place them squarely on the rims. Screw on the bands, firmly, but not too tight. Place the jars back into the boiling hot water bath and process for ten minutes.
- After processing, remove the jars and place on a tea towel to cool. As they cool, the lids should snap down with an audible “pop.” This means the jar is sealed properly. If any of your lids do not pop down (or if you can still push the lid down) you can either re-process, or just put the jar in the fridge after it’s cool and use the pumpkin within 10 days. Leave the properly sealed jars in a cool place for at least 1 week before eating.