Some of us may have more pumpkin lying around than usual, given the season. And as more of us are aware of how we should make the most of every precious resource we have not just letting pumpkins rot on our doorstep is becoming more well recognised than ever.
There are plenty of ways to make use of leftover pumpkin - it's great roasted in slices for salads, boiled and pureed in risottos or knocked up into an easy soup. But have you ever thought of using fermentation to preserve your scary squash, adding unique flavours and living microbes? In this blog we'll be looking at two ways to use up pumpkin, using the preservation power of fermentation!
Sauerkraut is traditionally made using cabbage, but it's much, much more versatile than that. Lots of fruit and vegetables can be preserved alongside cabbage to create different colours, textures and to add depth of flavour. Pumpkin works a treat in sauerkraut. All you'd need to do it grate a proportion into a sauerkraut - roughly two thirds cabbage and one third pumpkin - along with any additional flavourings such as caraway or cumin seeds, chilli or ginger. See our post on how to make sauerkraut for further details.
Like the way sauerkraut and kimchi lend themselves well to preserving a wide range of fresh fruit and vegetables, many can also be preserved through brining. This is a very simple process and is one way that gherkins are made (as well as using using vinegar). These brined pumpkin slices would be lovely on a salad, with a cheeseboard or in a sandwich.
In brief here's the general process:
1. Place an empty jar (that has a lid) on a scale and tare it so it reads zero.
2. Add sliced pumpkin to the jar then top up with cold water leaving about an inch from the rim.
3. Make a note of the weight (in grammes) then multiply this number by 0.025 to calculate 2.5% - this gives you the amount of salt to use in the brine. You can make a slightly saltier brine but we've found 2.5% works nicely.
4. Pour off just the water from the jar then dissolve in the calculated salt.
5. Pour the brine back into the jar then add the lid.
6. Leave to ferment in a warm spot (18-22°C) until bubbly.
7. Taste after a few days, if you enjoy the taste then pop in the fridge and use up within a couple of months. Otherwise leave to ferment for longer, trying often.
And what to do with those tricky seeds? Well, eat 'em of course! All you need to do is remove the stringy bits, wash them in a sieve, then dry fry on a low heat or bake in an oven at 100°C for 20-30 mins. Alternatively they dry out well in an air fryer (yes we're also obsessed with our air fryer!). It's not something we've tried but we have seen other recipes for pumpkin juice kombucha or water kefir, and as soon as we try them we'll make another blog about it.