DIY: How to Dehydrate Pumpkin

by Jenn @ Frugal Upstate on November 28, 2012

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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