Depending on how long you’ve been following me, you may remember my monster pumpkin vines from the summer (that’s only three plants in that photo… was my Tagro radioactive??). I ended up with quite a few pumpkins – several of which (sadly) rotted because I left them outside as Halloween decorations instead of keeping them dry in the cool garage. Two pumpkins met their end at Thanksgiving and were turned into delicious pies, but I’ve still had several taking up workbench space in the garage. I’ve been meaning to get in and can them for weeks (we just don’t have the freezer space to save them that way), but canning is a lot of work, and finally trying out my pressure canner seemed pretty daunting.
But this week, I finally got my butt in gear and did it. My work schedule this week was a bit wonky, but that meant getting off of work at 12:30 and having more afternoon to start a big project. Cutting, cleaning, peeling, and chopping up the pumpkins ended up being more work than I’d expected, and two got tossed because their insides were starting to get a little squishy. I honestly lost track of how many I actually ended up canning. Three? Five? …ish? I got all of my pumpkins prepped on Thursday, and luckily had the brains to measure out raw pumpkin with a quart jar before doing it’s two-minute-boil prior to canning, as I could tell that I wasn’t going to be able to do all of it in one batch. I loaded the canner with six one-quart jars on Thursday, got them processed, and even managed to get most of my mess cleaned up before Destin got home from work (don’t give me too much credit here – he works second shift, so I was mostly cleaned up by… eleven pm). I thought about posting an “honest kitchen” photo of the aftermath, but decided that nobody needs to see that.
By the way, quart jars of pumpkin take forever to process. You have to keep them at 11 pounds of pressure for an hour and a half. And it’s not just a set-it-and-forget-it thing either… you have to monitor the pressure so it doesn’t get too low (you have to start your processing time over again if that happens) or get too high (I suspect the result in this case would be digging the rubber safety stopper out of your kitchen ceiling… if you’re lucky). I’m not sure exactly how hot it gets inside a pressure canner, but those jars of pumpkin were still boiling more than 20 minutes after the canner got removed from the heat, and kept boiling for at least several minutes after removing them from the canner! That “pop” as the button on the lid pops down as the jars is such a satisfying sound – it means the jars have properly sealed!
Friday, I was determined to finish canning my pumpkin so my pumpkin cubes in the fridge didn’t rot before I got back around to it. The remaining pumpkin fit into three one-quart jars and were happily also processed without incident. I’ve seen a lot of photos online of pressure canning having gone horribly, horribly wrong – mainly in the form of jars broken or exploded inside the canner.
Nine quarts total of pumpkin, each holding about a pound and change of pumpkin cubes that are ready to be pureed and turned into pies! Or bread, or whatever. Monkey likes eating pumpkin puree by itself, but was also pretty ticked off that I wouldn’t let her try pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving (I caught her about to sample the cooling pie on the counter). I’m not sure what I’m going to do with all of it yet, other than ship at least two jars off to my dad in California. Thank heavens for the flat-rate boxes at the post office!