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Christopher Greaves

Pumpkin Jam

Itís Fall/Autumn.

Pumpkins sell for $3.00 at the local supermarket.

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This $3.00 pumpkin weighs 12 pounds. It needs to shed some flesh, and Iím about to help it do just that.

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No, really, 12 pounds. None of that trick stuff about weighing myself holding the pumpkin and again without and performing an improper subtraction.

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I use my biggest cleaver-like-knife to halve the beast; a plastic fork helps wedge the cut open making the job a little easier.

I cut monsters directly on the counter, not on a chopping-board. The chopping board can easily slip and things (including the knife) fly in all directions.

While I mention the knife, always use the sharpest knife you have; sharpen it.

With a sharp knife you use less pressure and stand LESS chance of cutting yourself.

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Here is the pumpkin halved. I use a vegetable knife to cut the strings, then I scoop out the seeds.

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The seeds go outside to dry. I plan on raising pumpkins next year.

I am using one quarter of the pumpkin now, the remaining three quarters sit in the bottom of the refrigerator.

My first effort at Pumpkin jam, and I start with a small manageable quantity.

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I cut the quarter into smaller segments.

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And into smaller-yet segments. We will be peeling the skin off the raw pumpkin, a tough job.

Narrow segments are easier to peel.

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I generally eat pumpkin and squash peel, but Iím not sure what the peel would do to the jam, so I am removing the thin layer of skin.

From the pumpkin.

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Next I dice the segments into chunks about 1/3 an inch thick.

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Speed up the task by doubling-up on the segments and using the cleaver.

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I re-weighed the chunks.

750 grams of flesh go into the pan.

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I weigh out 750 grams of white sugar.

Why 750 grams? Web-based recipes quote varying proportions from 1:1 to 4;3 (less sugar).

I figure that the amount of sugar required must depend a great on the sugar content of the pumpkin, so I am starting with a 1:1 ratio on this quarter. Letís see how we go.

My tray is a croissant package lid; it weighs an even 50 grams.

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Here the sugar has been poured over the diced chunks.

I will leave it to marinate overnight.

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The peel?

Into the vermicomposter .

The Next Morning

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The sugar has dissolved into the flesh (sounds like another failed dieting plan).

The odd image above is a photograph taken into the shiny stainless steel pan.

The pumpkin chunks are visible in a sea of liquid sugar. The reflection around the inside of the pan gives a weird view.

At 7:00 a.m. I start the pot on a low heat (2/10 on my stove top).

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Here is a poorly-focused shot of the chunks-in-syrup waiting to be pureed at very low speed in the blender.

Even with a poor focus the chunks are visible. The liquor is clear.

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I made about two liters of puree, and poured it into a solid-base saucepan for a slow rise-to-boil.

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After four hours much water had boiled off; note the lower level in the pan compared to the previous image.

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Into six small jars it goes, sterilize for an hour, and then out to cool on the balcony.

In the foreground you can see a snake of bubbles as the jar cools, pressure drops, and so does the boiling point. More water vapor escapes, condense, the pressure drops ... and so we get a vacuum seal.

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A close-up view of a bubble-snake.

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I tried to get a shot of a large bubble; failed.

But what a lovely color for jam!

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Here are my six jars, cooling off to room temperature outside (today about 17c)


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Toronto, Friday, August 14, 2015 1:02 PM

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