The easiest way to prepare the pulp of pumpkin or hard winter squash is to bake it in the oven. Wash the pumpkin or squash and cut in half crosswise. Remove its seeds and strings. Place the halves in a pan, shell side up. Bake in the oven at 325 °F for one hour or more until the flesh becomes tender and begins to fall apart. Scrape the pumpkin or squash from the shell and process in a blender, food processor, or food mill to form a smooth consistency. From there, you can freeze the pulp for later use; however, the pureed pulp cannot be safely canned. For canning, use only cubed pumpkin or winter squash.
Canning Cubed Pumpkin & Winter Squash
Pumpkin and winter squash should have a hard rind and stringless, mature pulp of ideal quality for cooking fresh. Small pumpkins (sugar or pie varieties) make better-finished products. Winter squash varieties include acorn, banana, buttercup, butternut, golden delicious, and Hubbard. CAUTION—Spaghetti squash will not stay cubed when cooked and must be frozen instead of canned.
Wash, remove seeds, cut into 1-inch slices, and peel. Cut the flesh into 1-inch cubes. Add to a saucepot of boiling water, and boil two minutes. CAUTION—Do not mash or puree.
Pack hot cubes into hot jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. Fill the jar to 1 inch from the top with boiling hot cooking liquid. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids.
Process in a dial-gauge pressure canner at 11 pounds pressure (12 pounds pressure between 2,001–4,000 feet) OR in a weighted-gauge pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure (15 pounds if above 1,000 ft. altitude). Process the pints for 55 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes.
To make pies using canned pumpkin, drain liquid from jars and strain or sieve cubes.
Select full-colored mature pumpkin and squash with fine texture and a hard rind. Wash and prepare as instructed above to cook in the oven. Or, wash, remove seeds, and cut into cooking-size sections. Then cook until soft in boiling water, in steam or a pressure cooker. Remove pulp from rind and mash. (For spaghetti squash, mashing the cooked pulp is not necessary.) To cool, place the pan with pumpkin or squash in cold water and stir occasionally. Package in freezer bags or freezer containers leaving ½-inch headspace. Seal and freeze.
Drying & Roasting Seeds
Drying seeds and roasting seeds are two different processes. To dry, carefully wash pumpkin or squash seeds to remove the clinging fibrous tissue. Seeds can be dried in the sun, in a dehydrator at 115–120 °F for 1 to 2 hours, or in an oven on warm for 3 to 4 hours. Stir frequently to avoid scorching.
To roast, take dried seeds, toss with oil and or salt, and roast in a preheated oven at 250 °F for 10 to 15 minutes.
Sprinkle with your favorite spice blend for a sweet or savory snack.
Reynolds, Susan and Paulette Williams. So Easy To Preserve. University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. Revised by Elizabeth Andress and Judy Harrison, 2006.
Originally published 06/99