We're a family on a 1 acre homestead in Central Florida. We're commited to raising our children in the Love of God and raising plants and animals in sustainable agriculture to feed them.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
No More Seminoles
I will never grow Seminole pumpkins again. Well, never say never, but not when this is so readily available after Halloween.
To detail the last couple weeks, I posted on facebook that I was scouting for unwanted pumpkins. A friend who is a receptionist at a local Methodist church responded that I could clean up whatever was left after they closed their pumpkin patch after Halloween. A few days later I was called to get some that were about to go bad. I came home with 10-12 pumpkins and immediately processed them into pumpkin butter (which I canned) and puree (which I froze) and a few were only fit for animals. I questioned how many pumpkins would be usable to human consumption so when another patch closed 2 days sooner than my friend's patch, I went out and filled the car full. There were all kinds of people there cashing in on free pumpkins and still, the 1 acre field seemed an endless sea of orange. I had snagged another 20 pumpkins. 15 of which I brought inside and began to process.
The Monday following Halloween, my friend said I could come and get whatever I wanted, as many trailer loads as I cared to take. Whoa. I showed up and was astounded at the number of left over pumpkins. I could have loaded the car and trailer 4 or 5 times over. I began to get a little worried because I told my friend I would take everything that was left, never having ANY clue it would be this many. I also felt really bad because it was a fund raiser for the youth group and I was concerned that they were in the negative on this deal. As we were loading up... and I say we because the kids were all helping. The older 2 were pleased as punch to carry over the small "baby pumpkins" and the littlest was happy to climb the biggest ones and wave at passing cars. So, as we were loading up, the pastor came out and explained that this is a mission project of the United Methodist churches (hence why all 3 pumpkin patches in the area were connected to Methodist churches). They have a mission with the Navajo Indians raising pumpkins. The churches then sell the pumpkins for them, returning 75% of the proceeds to the Indians and keeping 25% for the church. There's no capital needed. No one's "loosing" by so many pumpkins going unsold. Its a great system. And I walked away with LOTS of free pumpkins!
As you can see, the animals are happy. I smash open a few each day. The bigger ones for the sheep and goats and the small ones for the chickens. Not much gets left behind. I'm also making lots of pumpkin butter, puree and soup. In fact, yesterday we were at the Fall Jamboree at the Pioneer Art Settlement and learned about Timucuan Indians. They would cook stews a such inside the pumpkin. So we did that for dinner. We used a big pumpkin and a couple little ones for the kids.
For future reference, the smaller pumpkins work better for such things. The soup never heated in the big pumpkin, but did great in the small ones. Its a fun variation on something... well... that could get quite old this winter!
Pumpkin Curry Soup: pumpkin puree, coconut milk, curry powder, salt. All to taste. Its a made up recipe and I'm not sure about amounts.
Pumpkin Bisque: pumpkin puree, chicken broth, onion, cumin, salt, cream. Again, work it to taste.
Pumpkin Butter: Pumpkin puree (or raw pumpkin in chunks), sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Set it cooking in the crock pot until it cooks down and is somewhat thick. I added some orange juice to acidify it more and further reduce the risk of botulism. USDA (after hundreds of years of people canning it) has recently decided pumpkin butter should not be canned because its not acidic enough. Hence the addition of orange juice in my own recipe.
With the frozen puree, have pumpkin soups, breads, muffins, pies etc all you want until next fall. No pumpkin shortage here!
So what have I done with my lush and blossoming seminole pumpkin plants? I pulled one and fed it to the sheep and will plant more lettuce and greens in its place. Pumpkins take up way too much room, are too susceptible to disease and take too long to produce to grow our own when these are going to be available, likely every year. I could never grow this many pumpkins. Its nice to know I don't have to.