• Γλυκό του κουταλιού κολοκύθι – مربى القرع •
Pieces of pumpkin are transformed into sweet and glistening amber-colored jewels in this recipe for Pumpkin Preserves. Interestingly crunchy outside and creamy inside, you’ll want to replace your ordinary breakfast table preserves with these little gems.
This recipe comes directly from my Teta (grandmother) in Jordan. She used to make these preserves for us every time she visited the US and we just loved these puzzlingly crunchy, glassy, and spiced pumpkin cubes.
If you try to cube up some pumpkin and just boil them in syrup, the cell walls in the pumpkin will break down and you will end up with a mushy, liquid mess. For this reason, you’ll need a special ingredient to achieve the firmness in these preserves.
Calcium hydroxide (also known as pickling lime, slaked lime, or cal) is the secret to solidifying the sides of the pumpkin pieces and keeping them from disintegrating during boiling. Pickling lime is widely used in cooking to make things like crisp cucumber pickles and soft, malleable corn masa (in the process known as nixtamalization). It’s even used in some molecular gastronomy recipes as a firming agent and a pH modifier.
It’s also used in the construction industry for making things like mortar and plaster. Funnily, and somewhat unsettlingly, my grandmother would obtain her pickling lime powder by just walking to a nearby building construction site and asking the builders to fill her a bag of the white powder…
That’s probably not the recommended method of procuring this ingredient. Fortunately, pickling lime is easy to come by; you can buy some here on Amazon or you can find it in Mexican grocery stores (ask for cal) or, more rarely, in large supermarkets.
- 4 Tablespoons pickling lime mixed into 8 cups of water
- 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of peeled pumpkin, cubed ¾-1 inch in size
- 1½ liters (6½ cups) water
- 1½ kg (6 cups) of sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 6-8 whole cloves
- Peel and cube the pumpkin into ¾ to 1 inch sized pieces.
- Gently mix the pickling lime powder into 8 cups of water in a glass bowl. Put the cubed pumpkin into this solution and put a small plate over the pumpkin to submerge. Set this bowl aside for 6-8 hours.
- After soaking in the pickling lime solution, remove the pumpkin and submerge and rinse in fresh water. Do this 3 times, changing the water each time, to ensure that all the calcium hydroxide has been removed. Drain the pumpkin and set aside.
- Make your syrup by boiling the liter of water, 1 kg of sugar, cinnamon stick, and cloves in a large pot. Bring it to a boil. Put the pumpkin cubes in the syrup and return to a boil.
- When the pumpkins in syrup come to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 2 hours and 15 minutes. It sounds like a long time but you only need to stir it every 30 minutes or so.
- After simmering the whole time, the pumpkin preserves can now be carefully spooned into mason jars for canning or into jars with a rubber-gasketed lids. Pour the hot syrup into the jars to submerge the pumpkin pieces and seal.
-You can use any variety of pumpkin for these preserves: fairy tale pumpkin, cheese pumpkin, and even kabocha--all work great.
-When you eat all the preserved pumpkin pieces, you will be left with the syrup which can be stored in the refrigerator for months. Use it to sweeten coffees, teas, and lattes with a spiced pumpkin flavor.
-You can flavor these preserves in numerous ways. Some things that would be good to simmer with the pumpkin: orange peels, slices of ginger, a vanilla bean, star anise, or cardamom.