Monday, December 3, 2012

Pumpkins the Old Fashioned Way


They say there’s more than one way to skin a cat, and there’s definitely more than one way to dehydrate a pumpkin! 

I found these instructions for dehydrating pumpkin rings in a government booklet on food preservation published in 1917. Back then, people ate pumpkins as a regular part of their diet. Pumpkins are large, easy to grow, and chock full of nutrition.   

This is an ideal method for those of you who may live off the grid or do not have electric dehydrators.   

A Simple Process

  • First, cut off the top and remove the seeds and strings from the inside.

  • Then cut the pumpkin in about one-inch rings.
Trim the inside 

  • Remove the grubby string bits from the inside. 
Peel the skin away from the pumpkin.

Cut a slice in one side 

Day 1 

Hang the pumpkin up to dry. 
  • The instructions suggested hanging them from a broomstick suspended from the ceiling.
  • I found another set of instructions that talked about suspending a wire over the wood stove and hanging them.
In any case, just find a place out of the way and hang them.  No need to cook them, just slice, peel, and hang.  Let nature take it’s course. 

I didn’t have a spare broom handle and didn’t dare tack up wires over the wood stove (in my rental trailer), but found that a spare pasta rack worked just fine.  I didn’t do the whole pumpkin, only a few pieces just to see how it works.  Most of my pumpkin got simmered and pureed for other recipes.  For more information, see my post on How to Prep a Pumpkin.  

Day 7

  • It’s beginning to shrivel and shrink. (notice the snow outside?)
Day 11 

  • By day 11, they seemed dry and shriveled. 
  • They will be tough and leathery, not crispy.
  • In some parts of the country it will take much longer to dry. It depends on the humidity where you live.   

Here are my three finished pumpkin rings. I scrunched them up and stuffed them into a quart freezer bag for now.

How to use air-dried pumpkin rings:
As of this writing, I haven’t used my pumpkin rings yet. Presently, I have three other basket-ball sized pumpkins cooked and dehydrated and am experimenting with recipes for them first. 
I’m thinking the best thing to do is to soak and rehydrate them, then simmer until tender.  Or perhaps put them in a crock pot and simmer overnight. You might want to use chicken stock for that. I’m thinking it might work better to whack them into one inch pieces before cooking.

If anyone has used raw air-dried pumpkin, please let us know how you used it.






  1. Thanks for the off grid recipe. It's just what I need :)

    I have heard that one can dry spinach / swiss chard by just hanging it, but I haven't tried it yet.

  2. Haven't tried it yet, but I think dried this way it would be good cut up into soup.

    1. I agree. Have you seen some of the other techniques for dehydrating pumpkin? Shortly I will be posting a few pumpkin recipes. Have to get past the holiday rush.

  3. Watched a movie called Keeping the Promise, where a young boy cuts both pumpkin and winter squash into curls and hangs over fireplace to dry, to be used in soups and stews. Also seen this done with apples. Nothing on Youtube about this technique, however.

    1. Hi Deborah,

      Thanks for the tip. I'll be sure to look for it. Hope the rest of you folks out there find it, too!

      Back before the days of electricity, hanging and spreading foods out in the sun to dry was the only way to go. Isn't it amazing?