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Pickle a pound of pumpkin for a crunchy holiday treat

By Betty Shimabukuro

LAST UPDATED: 01:45 p.m. HST, Dec 04, 2013

This business of recipe requests usually follows a particular flow: Questions come in, recipes go out. But this time, Dagmar Oato sent in a recipe, totally unsolicited yet quite welcome in this season of pumpkins.

Her offering is for pickled pumpkin, a recipe from her friend Rita Senke, who lives in Berlin. “She stills grows her pumpkin on the compost pile,” Oato says. “They were organic before ‘organic’ became popular.”

Senke gives away jars of pickles as gifts. During a visit to Berlin, Oato persuaded her friend to show her how it’s done. “Since she never measures I stood by her side and measured everything.”

Oato decided to share the recipe, as pumpkins are plentiful this time of year. If your Halloween pumpkins are still around, here’s a good use for them. I tried this with a mini­pump­kin, but if you are awash in the squash, the recipe is easily doubled or tripled. Oato used a basketball-size pumpkin last year and ended up with 20 pints of pickles.

Her version is sweet and has a taste reminiscent of apple pie, due to the cinnamon and cloves in the brine. If you prefer something more tangy, use more vinegar and less sugar. The cinnamon and cloves could be swapped out for other spices — mustard seed, coriander, ginger or chili peppers, perhaps. If you have a large pumpkin, make several different batches.

Make these now and add them to your Thanksgiving dinner. They’ll add a light crunch to the meal.

The recipe provides instructions for canning in sterile jars for a shelf-stable pickle that you could set aside now for holiday giving. But if canning is not your thing, just refrigerate your batch and eat it over the next month.

1 minipumpkin, about 1 pound
1 cup water
3/4 cup vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1 stick cinnamon
8 whole cloves
3-4 slices lemon

Peel pumpkin, remove seeds, dice into 1/2-inch pieces.

Combine water, vinegar, sugar and spices in large pot; bring to boil. Stir until sugar dissolves, then add lemon and pumpkin. Simmer 5-10 minutes, stirring so pumpkin pieces are evenly coated. Don’t overcook; pumpkin should be crisp-tender, not soft. Taste liquid; adjust flavor with more sugar or vinegar if necessary.

Place pumpkin in sterile glass jars. Strain liquid and fill glass jars to about 1/4 inch below rim. Cover and turn jars upside down 5 minutes to ensure tight seals. May be eaten immediately but will keep several months without refrigeration while sealed. Refrigerate after opening. Keeps about a month after opening. (Or put the pickles in any clean container and keep refrigerated for about a month.) Makes about 2 pints.

Nutritional information unavailable.


Write “By Request,” Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or email requests to bshimabukuro@staradvertiser.com.

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