Chicken Coop Chatter©
Most canned pumpkin is actually Squash, though the label says *pure pumpkin*, and very often even pie at restaurants is made from squash rather than pumpkin. Being from the same family there are certain varieties that are relatively interchangeable without a noticeable difference in taste or texture, however, if you purchase a can of *pure pumpkin*, you pretty much expect that you will be getting pure pumpkin and that may not be the case. But you do have the option of processing your own.
Have you considered processing your own pumpkin or squash pulp? If not this tutorial will make you ask yourself, *why not*? It's easy to do, and is pure pulp the same puree' you would expect to buy in commercial cans, but without any additives and most importantly you know it's either pumpkin or squash and not a misleading label. You can dehydrate the puree' or freeze it, though canning it is no longer recommended because of the low acidity and dense pulp, making it difficult to make sure it is properly processed. Save the Jack o' Lantern or harvest from your own garden or the farm markets. Most pumpkin and squash is suitable, use the varieties that you prefer. Make pumpkin or squash pies, other desserts, breads, casseroles, or dehydrate for leather and vegetable powder. Or make your own seasonal latte'.
You can render your cucurbita, either on the stove top in a kettle or steamer, oven, microwave or slow cooker. Whatever method you prefer with equal results, the difference will be amount of time involved.
Reserve some of the seeds, wash, pat dry, then lay out to air dry for re-planting in the garden next season. Once completely dry, package and label and keep in a dark, dry environment until planting season. (Note: Seeds from hybrid plants will not reproduce as a true variety, so be sure the seeds you save are from heirloom, organic and/or non-GMO seeds)
Squash or Pumpkin (any variety except Zucchini)
Sharp, heavy duty knife
Heavy duty serving spoon
Wash and cut the squash in half with a sharp knife. Scoop out the seeds and innards with the spoon. Set on a foil lined cooking tray. Place in 250 degree oven until soft enough to scoop the flesh out of the rind. (about 45 minutes). You are not fully cooking the squash, or roasting it, so you do not want to brown it, you simply want to soften the flesh to make it easy to remove from the shell. Allow to cool enough to handle, then scoop out the flesh with the large serving spoon or scoop. When cool, spoon into freezer containers, or into freezer bags. I prefer the freezer bags, because I flatten them out to take up less room in the freezer. All of my berries, fruit and meats are packaged this way and stacked, so I am able to pack more into the freezer than I can with freezer containers. I've been doing it this way many years, and what actually prompted it was traveling in an RV with a small refrigerator and freezing compartment. When the foods were flattened I was able to get much more in and less need to visit the grocers along the route.
Slow Cooker Instruction: Follow the preparation methods above. Place the cut pieces into the slow cooker on low for 2 hours. Test with a fork for tenderness. Remove then follow the remaining procedures to use immediately or freeze for later use.
Tip: For fun, reserve the squash/pumpkin shell and use for soup serving bowls this fall or for your fall season parties. (Refer to my Maple Bacon Squash Skillet recipe for serving suggestions: http://justfowlingaround.weebly.com/from-the-pantry/mapleroasted-butternut-squash
Note: I do not season or add any oils when rendering the vegetables. I allow myself options in how I wish to use them whether I dehydrate, use fresh or choose to freeze for later.
Note: You can choose to cut up the raw squash and simmer on the stove until soft. If you have a steamer, this will prevent too much water absorption, or if you want a quick way to soften the flesh, you can microwave until tender. If you choose to simmer, reserve the water, for vegetable broth or cool and pour into the chicken waterers, for a great source of Vitamin A and C and other valuable nutrients.
Note: Reserve the seeds to make healthy snacks and give the pulp surrounding the seeds to the chickens for their own healthy snack food. If you choose not to use the seeds to make your own snacks, be sure to give them to the chickens. (Refer to my instructions for people snacks). justfowlingaround.weebly.com/sweets-treats-and-drinks/garlicherb-squash-seeds
For making vegetable leather and powder, refer to our link:
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