Pumpkin is a wonderful food. It is simply a giant winter squash. Native to the
World, Indians grew pumpkins long before white men came to this continent.
The beauty of pumpkin is that you can use it just about any way you use any winter squash. Its mild taste makes it amenable for all sorts of dishes.
I did not want to turn all three of my pumpkins into pies, so I decided to prep it in a way to make it more versatile for a variety of dishes.
Remember, when dehydrating, even sized pieces of the same thickness will dry more consistently.
The first problem, after you get the thing cut open, is what to do with the strings and seeds.
Linda’s Note: Never toss those seeds! They are worth their weight in tasty, golden, highly nutritious snacks.
The first time, I used a heavy spoon to scrape everything out. But it was difficult to separate the strings from the seeds. Then I found an easier way. Don’t worry about the strings. Using your fingers, pull the seeds out. I used my fingers like a strainer and most of the seeds simply slid off the strings into my hand. (wish I had thought to take a pic of that). Toss them into a colander for cleaning and drying later.
Cut the pumpkin into wedges like this one. Whack off the curved end and set aside for use in pumpkin puree.
Now you have a stable piece that is easy to scrape clean with a heavy spoon.
I cut my pumpkin into manageable sized pieces. The goal of this is to make consistent, even sized pieces. That makes for better and even drying.
Now cut those pieces cross-wise into about one-inch strips. Take the curved ends and irregular pieces and set aside for puree.
To my surprise, I discovered that my potato peeler worked really well for peeling the skin off each piece.
Linda’s Note: You can cook your pumpkin with the skin on or the skin off. It just takes a little longer with the skin on.
This is how it looks if you’re peeling after cooking.
I’ve seen videos of people using a pressure cooker to cook their pumpkin. However, that is not essential. I found that here at high altitude it only takes about ten minutes to cook your pumpkin fork tender with the skins off and fifteen to twenty minutes of simmering to make it fork tender with the skin on.
Linda’s note: A pressure cooker is fantastic if you are cooking something that would normally take several hours to cook. But with something that cooks as quickly as pumpkin, it takes just about as long (or longer) to get the pressure up on the pressure cooker, cook the food, then cool it down.
- Sometimes low-tech is best. Fifteen to twenty minutes on the simmer is all you need for pumpkin.
Slice the cooked pumpkin strips into pieces. You can use a knife, but I found this cheese slicer gadget just zips right through it with perfect ¼ inch pieces.
The black bowl has my sliced pieces of pumpkin. The white bowl in the back has the weird wedges and inconsistent pieces of pumpkin. These will be used for making pumpkin puree (for pies and such).
Dehydrate the pumpkin pieces at 115º. It may take a day and a half to two days to dehydrate the pieces, depending on where you live and the moisture content of your pumpkin.
What to do with dehydrated pumpkin slices:
- Use them in casseroles, chunks for soups and stews
- Use them in any recipe you might use winter squash
- Rehydrated and season with brown sugar, cinnamon, etc. dot with butter and bake