Thursday, September 30, 2010

For Winter

As the seasons change, and the weather is finally getting cool, the produce at the farmers' markets is shifting from tomatoes and okra to squash and greens. With this change of seasons, I've found myself canning less; don't get me wrong, I've still been canning about once a week, but it's not the daily frenzy of summer canning. This summer had a few very memorable weeks, with the bushel and a half of tomatoes, half bushel of okra, and then bushel and a half of apples. But now, things are moving at a more leisurely pace. I'm trying new things, for example, I'm making granola for the first time, and finding it quite satisfying. For the first time, too, I'm freezing things for the winter. I'm not one to take revelatory pictures of our fridge or freezer, but I felt particularly proud of it at this point. On the bottom shelf, as you see, there is ice, ice cream, and ice packs; but in the larger compartment, there are a few real gems. There are containers of pesto, jars (and bags) of okra, a bag of butternut squash, jars of pureed pumpkin, and a loaf of rustic rye bread. I hope to get a few more pumpkins over the course of next month, and preserve them in various forms in the freezer; they will be incredibly appreciated in soups, casseroles, bread, granola, and pies. If I plan things out correctly, I won't need to buy canned pumpkin, ever (unless our use of it greatly exceeds my estimations).

I was surprised today by how much better this pureed pumpkin tastes than the store-bought kind. I read about a few methods of preserving it, and decided against boiling or steaming it--or, horror of horrors, microwaving it. Instead, I roasted slices of pumpkin on a large sheet pan until the skin began blistering and browning. Once the pumpkin cooled, I peeled it and pureed, tasting it all the way. I highly recommend this method; yes, it takes longer, but none of the flavor or nutrients are lost to the water or the evil microwaves. I encourage you to try preserving pumpkin in this way, especially now that pumpkins are starting to appear everywhere. And like the woman at the farm-stand said: it's called a "pie pumpkin" because it's perfect for one pie!