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dehydrating pumpkin or winter squash

It is winter and the winter projects are being worked on. It is a different season of the year where there is still a project list, but they are inside and a much slower pace. It is a time of rest from the running of summer and at least slow down to an enjoyable walk.

The winter stored pumpkins are doing great and still just as firm as when they went into storage, but the whole point of storing them is to use them throughout the winter. A couple of years ago I found my favorite pumpkin, Jarrahdale, it is actually also considered a winter squash. I love everything about this pumpkin, and it will forever be in our seed library. The problem with them is that they are big, so cooking one for dinner is over kill. The other problem with cooking any squash for dinner is you need to be on top of your cooking time because deciding last minute to cook a squash is out. They take a while to cook and so many times are ruled out of the selection based on time. I used to just freeze the leftovers, but that means space used in the freezer and reliant on electricity to keep.

Then I started to make a perfect pumpkin goats milk soap which has yogurt, goats' milk and pumpkin in it. It’s always fun to see the ingredients lined up ready to go in, you could almost eat this soap! I first started making the Perfect Pumpkin soap I would buy canned pumpkin, but I only needed 6 ounces, so some of the can would always go to waste. When I started learning more about dehydrating, I decided that I would like to try and experiment with dehydrating my own pumpkin to see if I could get it to incorporate into my recipe, but also for dinner!

To dehydrate, I cook the pumpkin and mash it as if I were making it for dinner. (Do not put anything in it, you want it to be plain only. You will add your extras, like sweetener and butter when you reconstitute it.) I then spread the mash on my dehydrator silicone trays to dehydrate. One thing that I have learned IF you have a good dehydrator, is to make your spread thick. It takes a little more time to dehydrate, but it will be easier to peel off the tray. Also, if you peel off the silicone sheet as soon as it is "dry", you can flip it over and continue until its crisp. Once it is fully dehydrated and crisp, I grind it to a powder using a blender and store in a jar. Always make sure you "condition" it before storing to make sure that all moisture is out. Condition just means to watch your sealed jar for about a week to make sure no condensation shows. If none shows, that means it is fully dried and ready to store.

I know that I need 6 ounces for a batch of soap so to do this I take 2 ounces of my dehydrated powder and mix in 4 ounces of water. Once it is stirred together and rehydrated, I have 6 ounces of pumpkin the consistency of canned pumpkin. This saves me from having to buy cans of pumpkin and having them on hand and also saves on wasting the rest of the can.

If I want to have some for dinner, I just reconstitute the amount I want, heat and add butter and sugar to make it the taste and consistency we want! To give you an idea, 2 ounces of powder makes about 8 ounces of squash reconstituted. You will have to play with your ratios to make it just the way you like it. It is ready in minutes, and you would never know that it wasn't fresh.

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