Pumpkins are high in vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants, and pumpkins are plentiful in the Dayton area (unlike other parts of the country). The local area farm markets all have pumpkins right now, and prices are low.
You can bake the pumpkin, scoop out the cooked flesh and freeze it for later use, or if you have a dehydrator, pumpkin is easily dehydrated for a shelf-stable product. Simple dehydrators can often be picked up for very little money at garage sales. You can use either a pie or a carving pumpkin when dehydrating.
Dehydrating pumpkin flesh and seeds:
- Cut the pumpkin in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and goopy stuff (save the seeds for roasting or dehydrating later on). Cut the pumpkin into full length slices about 2 inches wide, and then cut those slices in half.
- Use a potato peeler to peel off the outside rind, just as you would peel an apple (except the rind is thicker than apple peel, of course.
- Cut the peeled slices in half again, and then cut each of THOSE chunks into ¼” slices.
- Place the slices close together on your dehydrator racks (but not overlapping each other) and refer to your owner’s manual for specific settings. I have an old Ronco dehydrator; mine was set to “wide open”.
- Make sure you rotate your racks – moving the bottom racks to the top and vice versa. I left my slices in for 14 hours. They were faintly leathery and crisp at the edges.
You can grind the dried pumpkin into a powder in your blender or coffee grinder, and use this when baking cookies or breads, etc.
Small pets sometimes enjoy these as treats; if you don’t mind your small rabbit or rodent having a bit of sugar (and if your veterinarian says it is OK), you can soak the sliced pumpkin in juice or a mixture of half honey and half water overnight before drying, for some added sweetness.
Don’t forget the seeds!
You can soak the seeds overnight in salted water with garlic, or chili powder or other seasonings added, and then dehydrate them for 24 hours or so. They turn out nice and crisp this way!
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