DIY: How to Dehydrate Pumpkin

I bet some of you are thinking–why on earth would you want to dehydrate pumpkin?

(note:  Ever since I got my Excalibur dehydrator last Christmas I’ve been having such fun dehydrating!  I haven’t written too much about it because I really wanted to get some experience under my belt first. . . but now I’m ready to share!)

Pureed pumpkin is a very healthy food-low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.  Pumpkins are easy to grow and inexpensive to purchase in the fall.  As a winter squash they keep for a while-but eventually you will either get tired of tripping over pumpkins or else they will start to develop soft spots.  You can’t safely home can pumpkin puree (it’s too thick-you can can chunks in water, but then you need to drain & puree to use) so it’s either freezing or dehydrating for storage.  I don’t know about you, but my freezer space is always at a premium. That makes dehydrating pumpkin a winning choice for me.

And as an added bonus, when you dehydrate pumpkin you GREATLY reduce the volume.  One half cup of dehydrated pumpkin powder rehydrates to TWO cups of pumpkin puree!  That saves you a ton of space!

The first thing you need to do is crack your pumpkins open.  I was able to slice the small ones on the counter, but decided that it was safer to place the big ones on the floor before I attacked them:

Once I had them all split open (this was 2 smaller “pie” pumpkins and middle sized carving pumpkin) it was time to remove the seeds.

Believe it or not, an ice cream scoop actually works quite well to remove the seeds and strings.  Save the seeds-you can roast them for a delicious snack!

I hacked it all up into smaller pieces and baked them in the oven on 350 for about an hour.  I put a bit of water in the bottom of the pans, maybe 1/2 to 2/3 a cup. . . not too much, you don’t want to add a ton of water into the squash that you’ll just have to dehydrate out.

After a bit of cooling I took my trusty paring knife and sliced off the peels.

Be careful- everything is slimy and slippery. . . you don’t want to wind up with a cut like I did!  After bandaging, I was back to the job.

To puree everything I took the easy route-I tossed it into my mixer in several small batches and just mushed it all up.

Following tutorials I had seen and read I went ahead and spread the pumpkin directly on the dehydrator trays and then dehydrated on 140 overnight.

In the morning it was crispy hard and dried.  It was also stuck into all those little holes in the dehydrator sheet and an absolute pain to get off.

I wound up with a bunch of it stuck on that I just didn’t have the patience to pick off.  In the future I’ll either lay a piece of wax paper down or use the sheets that are for fruit roll ups to keep the puree off the mesh.

I dug out my food processor and used it to powder the dried puree.  The damp kitchen towel is draped over the food processor to cut down on the dust that flies out of it during a “powdering” process.

I didn’t wind up with perfectly smooth powder-more like powder with some flakes in it.

I immediately did a rehydration test using the 1:4 proportions-1 tsp of pumpkin powder to 4 tsp of warm water.  At first it looked like a bowl of water with some pumpkin sludge on the bottom.

But after about 15 minutes it was back to a puree consistency!  If I had gotten a perfect powder it probably would have been absolutely smooth.  This had those small chunks you can see-but still a great puree to use in any recipe calling for pumpkin.

And the best part? All of those pumpkin pieces you saw reduced down into less than a quart sized jar!

Have any of you out there ever dehydrated pumpkin or squash?  What do you use yours for?

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Comments

  1. Cici says

    What a space saver! Could you have dehydrated the pumpkin in strips or chunks like you do watermelon?
    Pumpkin is a super nutritious vegetable that can be incorporated into so many dishes! (Pumpkin soup is one of my favorites! )

    • says

      Cici-you could do cooked strips or chunks-but they would take a lot longer. If you wanted them to eat as a snack I’d go more the fruit roll up route and add sugar and spices and then dehyrdate only until pliable rather than brittle.

    • says

      Lora-if you get one, go for the 9 tray rather than the 5. Trust me-when you are actually in the mood to dehydrate and when you want to put away produce for later, you’d rather have more trays :) I really love my Excalibur dehydrator (it ain’t cheap!) and I’ve heard folks say the LEM ones you can find at sporting goods stores this time of year (since hunters like to use them for making jerky) are quite similar.

  2. says

    Ah, to have a dehydrator!

    I just wanted to add a suggestion. It would add some work, but after the pumpkin is pureed, I would actually strain out as much of the liquid as possible. It’s good for using in vegetable stock (or in lieu of vegetable stock) and can be made into a delicious syrup. In my house, I make pancake syrup instead of buying maple syrup for our pancakes, and everyone loves it!

    • says

      Rachel-Yes, less water is good! I actually didn’t have TOO much extra liquid-that’s why I baked them with just a bit of water-if I had steamed them, boiled them or pressure cooked them I have a feeling there would have been a lot more moisture absorbed into the squash.

      Interesting idea about making the liquid into a syrup. We usually tap our one tree and make maple syrup so we always have the good stuff on hand. . . :)

  3. Rita W. says

    I was so happy to see your posting on dehydrating pumpkins. I planted pie pumpkins the summer before last ( for roasting
    seeds) and got a really good crop. I harvested all of the seeds from the good pumpkins ( threw some that rotted out in the garden to feed the worms). I cooked and pureed all of the pumpkin and froze in 2 cup portions. There was a lot! This year, I didn’t plant pie pumpkins because I still had a big jar of dried seeds & a lot of puree in the freezer. As usually happens, I had a couple plants sprout up from the pumpkins that I threw out for compost. I harvested about 12 pie pumpkins that were uninvited guests. I had looked up how to dehydrate pumpkins in the instructions that came with my dehydrator. It called for making leather with it. Then I read your post! I did it in stages by first cooking and pureeing, refrigerating overnight; pouring off the liquid & dehydrating the next day and that evening blending the pumpkin into powder. I ended up using my coffee/spice grinder to blend it fine. It turned out perfectly! I had to do it in batches because I only have 2 solid roll up sheets. Thanks a bunch for your tutorial. I am glad to have 12 pumpkins powdered into a space saving jar instead of more puree taking up room in my freezer.

    • says

      Rita-So glad to have helped! It is amazing how space saving it is to dehydrate things :) I’m also thinking that pumpkin powder can be “snuck” into a lot of other foods for added nutrition–I’ll just have to remember to add a bit of extra liquid.

  4. says

    Thanks for WRITTEN tutorial. I don’t watch videos (very much so a visual, not auditory, learner). I am going to grind it for flour actually, and use my oven. I am super excited!

    • says

      Glad you enjoy the written tutorial. I enjoy watching videos, but you can’t scan them quickly for the info you are looking for–much easier to do that with text & photos. Have fun with your dehydrating adventures–it’s so easy and very useful :)

    • says

      That’s a good question! The short answer is yes, you can use an uncarved Halloween pumpkin, but the flavor might not be very robust, and the texture might be sub par. “Pie/Culinary” pumpkins and “Ornamental/Carving” pumpkins have been bred for different reasons. This really deserves a more in depth answer, so I’m going to pull it out and answer it separately as a “Reader’s Question” for this Thursday :)

  5. Denise Petty says

    I love pumpkin ‘flour’. To get rid of the little pieces, I powdered mine in my magic bullet, then put it back in the dehydrator for awhile. Then processed again. No chunks! The powder works great to replace part of flour in muffins, pancakes, etc. I often throw some into my smoothies, adding some thickness and nutrition. Or search for pumpkin dog treats. Very healthy for them. I have yet to reconstitute for a pie, but they say it tastes like fresh.

  6. Cindy says

    I will definitely be doing this! I will be using it primarily as an additive in my cats and dogs food. This is a great idea!

  7. darci says

    I to am thankful for this we have been given a bunch of pumpkins now that Novembers here and no one wants them anymore. I would like. To suggest to those who have the Excalibur dehydrator to look at Walmart for the soft plastic cutting boards came in a three pack for about $5 these work like the fruit leather trays or parchment paper but affordable. It took me three weeks but now I have enough to make 9 trays and just love them they aren’t perfect square. But fit with out any problems happy dehydrating

  8. Shondell says

    Can you boil the pieces first instead of roast? My oven is broke and all I have is a small tosster iven for baking.

    • says

      You could–the real goal is just to have them cooked first. However if you boil them they will probably absorb quite a bit of water which then you will have to dehydrate out. If you can, you might try either microwaving them or steaming them as a cooking method (maybe putting a colander in the top of a pot if you don’t have a steamer basket?) that would add less moisture. If you go with the boiling, just do a small amount first and try dehydrating it to see how it goes.

  9. Nicole says

    I am so glad I found your site! I ended up pureeing 11 pumpkins the kids brought home from school and our trip to the pumpkin patch. I saw that you cut yourself when you were removing the skins…..i used a tablespoon….it cane out nice and easy with it :)

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