At first I thought, “why bother?” Pumpkins store pretty well and if there’s been a good harvest it’s possible to have pumpkin to eat right through the winter.
Then I thought of those times when I’ve had a poor harvest (pretty often, unfortunately), and have been given a monster pumpkin by a neighbour, and once it’s cut into, there’s a fair chance it will go to god before I can eat it all — buckets of pumpkin soup and lavish plates of roast pumpkin nothwithstanding.
So I thought I’d have a go at drying some pumpkin.
Not Something Else roasted his pumpkin first, then mashed it, spread it on the dehydrator tray and in the end had a lot of trouble with the dried product sticking to the tray. I watched the video he linked to and wasn’t impressed with the greyish-looking product the woman in the video produced.
I didn’t want to go down that path and thought of the Thermomix (when am I not thinking of what I can do in it!)
I peeled and cubed a small amount for starters (a quarter of a small Butternut), and gave it 5 seconds at speed 5 in the Thermie. Nicely chopped. Put it in the dehydrator on a piece of baking paper over the top of my tray, because the basic frame of my trays is covered with a piece of perforated plastic. It took a few hours to dry at a temperature of about 40º C (I had a batch of yoghurt curing in there at the same time, so couldn’t increase the temp).
It dried pretty well and didn’t stick to the paper. Some of it had stuck together in lumps so I put it all back into the Thermomix and gave it a few seconds to free it all up and make it more friable.
The dried mix contained some coarse pieces and some fines. I sieved it through a couple of sieves and ended up with three particle sizes:
Next day, I finished off the rest of the Butternut and also did a piece of Jap that had been in the fridge for a while. Here’s the Jap just going into the dryer. It was a coarser chop than the butternut, even though it was chopped for the same speed and time. Lovely colour!:
The dried Jap pieces didn’t stick together as much as the Butternut; I think the coarser chop was the reason. And I think the reason why I got a range of particle sizes with the Butternut was that it chopped much finer than the Jap initially and putting it back into the Thermomix to break up the dried pieces ground some of it to smaller particles. I didn’t need to sieve the Jap pieces because there were no visible fines. Probably, it’s all something to do with the different textures of the pumpkin flesh.
Now I have some dried pumpkin. What next?
Well, I’m going to put a couple of tablespoonfuls into my next loaf of bread. Should give it an interesting colour. I’m thinking of a batch of biscuits using the very fine stuff. Savoury or sweet, I think the pumpkin will complement them. It can also be used in casseroles as a thickener — there are loads of possibilities. Of course, the Thermomix will reduce dried particles of any size to a powder, so it doesn’t matter what the initial chop is like, just that smaller pieces will dry more quickly.