Thursday, October 30, 2014

Home Canned Pumpkin Pie Filling

This recipe is one my mom used for years. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, making a pumpkin pie was always a cinch because all we had to do was pull out a jar of Mom's home canned filling, add eggs and evaporated milk, bake and done. My sister, Rebecca, shared this recipe with me a couple years ago, along with her personal notes. She has been known to make arrangements with her neighbors to come around with her wagon on the morning after Halloween and pick up their jack o' lanterns to use in her canning in exchange for a jar of pumpkin filling. You can use any old pumpkin (or even butternut squash, which I like to throw in sometimes at about a 4:1 ratio) but the little sugar pumpkins are the sweetest and least watery. Make sure if you use a carved pumpkin that you either do your canning right away or cut it up and refrigerate so the exposed flesh doesn't rot. Cooked pumpkin can also be frozen for up to 3 months if you would rather cook and store it for canning later. If you are new to canning, I recommend reading up on it before canning, as I don't share all the finer points of the process in this post. A great resource is the Ball website.

Sugar pumpkins are fairly easy to
grow. Save some seeds from your
store bought pumpkin and try
planting them next spring. If space
is tight, you can grow them on a
trellis as long as you use mesh bags
(like those you buy onions in)
to support the fruit as it grows.
Start by cooking your pumpkin. I found that about 20 lbs. pumpkin yields about 19 c pumpkin puree, which will make just over 6 quarts of filling. Cut up your pumpkins (and/or squash) and remove the stem and seeds. Then you can either peel and boil it, or roast at 400° with the peel on for a couple hours then scoop the cooled flesh away from the peel. Baking tends to lend a nice roasted, caramelized flavor, so that's the method I prefer. Once your pumpkin is cooked, puree it in batches in a food processor until smooth and measure it into a large pot, taking note of how many cups you have. 

For every three cups puree, add the following:

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt

Bring to a boil, ladle into hot clean quart jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Put on the lids and process in a hot water bath for 1 hour 20 min (add 10 min for higher elevation). Allow to cool undisturbed on a towel covered counter top for 24 hours. Extra amounts of filling can be used as a spread like pumpkin butter, or used in place of pumpkin puree in any recipe that calls for it (for instance, my chocolate chip pumpkin cookies). Just remember to reduce the sugar and spices in the recipe, as those are already in the filling.

Pumpkin Pie (from Home Canned Filling)

1 quart home canned pumpkin pie filling
4 eggs
1 13 oz. can evaporated milk
1 pie crust

Extra filling can be made into pumpkin custards,
like these topped with whip cream
and drizzled with nuts and chocolate.
Preheat oven to 425°. Pour jar of filling into a mixer bowl, add eggs and evaporated milk and blend well. Line a pie plate with an unbaked pie crust. Pour in the mixed filling up to within 1/4 inch of the top. Cover the crust edges with foil or a pie crust shield. Depending on the size of your pie plate, there will be enough filling left over to pour into as many as 4 ramekins or custard cups to bake as crustless pumpkin custards. Place the filled cups in a deep pan and fill with water up to the level of the filling. Carefully move the pan to the oven so the water doesn't splash into the cups (or you can pour the water in after you move it to the oven, but I find I splash just as much water when I do it this way!). Bake pie and custards for 15 minutes at 425°, then reduce to 350° and bake about 45 min more, until there is hardly any "wiggle" when you move the pie. 

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