Saturday, June 5, 2010

Preserving is something you do when...

you aren't working a whole lot.


You can still preserve when you are!

The other weekend I came across a bargain at a local market. An enormous bag of butternut pumpkins, locally and 'organically' grown, for $10 a bag. I reckon it weighed about 15 kilos.

(I put organic in quotations because the gentleman who grows them isn't organically certified, but I did have a lovely chat with him about his garden and how he is a no-spray natural horse-poo fertiliser kind of fellow!)

So I wasn't really sure what I was going to do with them all. Originally I had planned to can some pumpkin cubes in the pressure canner - note, you can't can pureed pumpkin soup. According to the USDA the density of the resulting soup is such that even pressure canning for extended periods of time will not guarantee that the required temperature be reached in the middle of the jar, hence if you want to can pumpkin soup, can cubed pumpkin in stock, and puree it when you re-heat.

Of course, I haven't had a day when I'm not in paid employment since the pumpkin purchase, so I haven't had the time to pressure can anything.

I did, however, make up an enormous batch of pumpkin soup and fill my freezer with it. I still have other pumpkins left, which is fine, and I will post more recipes that are not preserving ones here about that later on - but this is my made-up pumpkin soup recipe.

Firstly - I heard from a friend that butternut pumpkins, when fresh, do not need to be peeled. This is great, because I hate peeling pumpkin. So when I was prepping this lot, instead of peeling them I scrubbed them all.

This recipe 3/4 filled my enormous stockpot, but cooked down to about 2/3 full once it had finished.

Scrub 8 small-medium butternut pumpkins, chop into biggish peices, de-seed and throw into stock pot.

Chop 3 onions and throw in as well.

Fill stockpot with chicken stock ( or vegie stock, or whatever you have on hand - I used powdered stock as my canned stock from last year is all gone)

Throw in some flavoursome bits - I used Nutmeg, and Sumac, and some "mediterannean" seasoning that I had, which has oregano and almonds and a few other bits in it. Taste it to see if it's ok.

Throw in some red lentils. I used a half a packet. Adds some protein and some fibre and some other good bits too.

Cook until pumpkin is soft, then use a stick blender (carefully! because the soup is hot!) to blend all the pumpkin into a puree. Then cook for a bit longer until the soup has reached a consistency that you are happy with.

Ladle into containers and fill your freezer up! I tend to use Tupperware in my freezer - mostly because I take soup to work as it's easy to heat up/defrost.

Well, that's it really. Easy and by keeping the skins on the pumpkin the texture is a little bit more chunky, and I reckon you get more vitamins included in the mix (if the heat doesn't cook them out first...)