Thursday, December 13, 2007

Estonian Christmas Recipes: Pickled Pumpkin

During Christmas all self-respecting Estonians feast on black pudding, roasted pork, sauerkraut and roasted potatoes. These are accompanied by lingonberry jam and pickled clove-scented pumpkin. At the end of the feast we nibble on piparkoogid (that's Estonian gingerbread cookies) and caramelised almonds and sip copious amounts of hõõgvein (mulled wine/glühwein/glögg). And then we're off to do some cross-country skiing in the midst of our beautiful pine forests to burn off all those calories. Well, some of us :)

I must admit this was the first time I pickled my own pumpkin - usually we have my mum's or grandmother's pumpkin on the Christmas table. I'm not even particularly keen on pickled pumpkin per se, but couple of yellow chunks alongside another portion of black pudding is kind of semi-required. My university friend Piret dropped by the other day and brought me a small pumpkin from her parents' country home. When trying to think what to do with this beauty of a pumpkin, somehow, this year, I really wanted to make my own pickled pumpkin. Here's the recipe I came up with. And it's not half as bad, believe me..

Pickled Yellow Pumpkin, Estonian Style
(Marineeritud kõrvitsasalat)
Makes 3 half-litre jars

1 kg prepared pumpkin/winter squash (see below)
1 L water
200 g sugar
1-2 cinnamon sticks
5 black peppercorns
1 whole cloves
5 allspice berries
fresh gingerroot, about 2-3 cm, peeled and sliced (optional)
2 Tbsp vinegar (30% strenght)

Cut the pumpkin into wedges, then peel, remove the soft bits and seeds. Cut the flesh into small chunks or sticks (even julienne, if you can be bothered). You need about 2 pounds or 1 kilogram of pumpkin chunks/sticks.
Mix water, sugar, cinnamon stick, gingerroot, black peppercorns, allspice and whole cloves in a large saucepan. (You may add a teaspoon of salt to the marinade, but it's not necessary). Bring to the boil, then add the vinegar and then your pumpkin.
Simmer on a moderate heat until pumpkin pieces have become translucent, but not too soft and mushy.
Transfer the pumpkin with a slotted spoon into sterilised jars, then pour the hot marinate over.
Close and keep in the fridge or very cold larder. Wait for about a week before eating, so the flavours could really mingle.


K and S said...

what a wonderful idea! I'd never thought to pickle pumpkins. This sounds delicious!

Anonymous said...

WOW, fantastic recipe! I'm definitely doing this one (as we have black pudding in Spain allyearround).
Just one question: Can you eat the pickled pumpkin as soon as it cools down or do you have to store it a while before eating (say a week or two?).

Ibán (¿Te quedas a cenar?)

Kristopher said...

I ate pickled pumpkin, made by our hostess at an B&B in Põlva County, immediately, while hot. It was good.

I'd love to try this recipe, but I'm awaiting the day when Estonians embrace pumpkin pie and soup -- truly divine cream-based foods.

Evelin said...

Ja suusatamas, muide, käiakse alati enne vitsutama hakkamist:D
Noh, järgmisel päeval muidugi ka. Meie pere kombed:)

Jeanne said...

Wow - I'd never even thought of pickling pumpkin! I think it sounds realyl interesting though - what's the texture like? Does it retain any crunch or is it really soft? Lovely pic :)

Anonymous said...

Kõrvitsasalat on alati olnud üks mu lemmikumaid jõulutoite. Verivorstid on ka kohe seal eesotsas. Ise pole aga kunagi proovinud teha. Kui pühapäevakokad kardavad vahel pärmitainast, siis ma kardan hoidiseid :).
To Jeanne: No crunch. The texture should be soft but firm. Mushy overboiled pickled pumpkin is horrible, in my opinion.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Obviously, there are a lot of foods that can be pickled that I've not considered. I really think this would be wonderful!!

David T. Macknet said...

Fabulous! I don't think I'll be trying it, mind you, because pumpkin turns into pie in our home, but it's certainly an interesting concept. :)

Mariajaan said...

HOW GOODDDDDDDDDDDDDD! I was waiting for these! Any ideas about a full meny for Christmas eve? Sausages, blood sausages, pork, and potatoes will be there but what else, let`s say innovative? Good luck with the nomination!

Puhvis Kukk said...

Kui kaua ta peab marineerima et oleks nagu paris? Ja otsin taga hoolega head sealiha retsepti. Mul vanaema vanasti tegi, hautas asjus ja hasti mahlakas tuli. Any advise for those of us that cannot be home in Estonia for holidays?

KALVA said...

Never saw pickled pumkins.. great idea.. love your Site!!!

Antti said...

I have to try these, Saarioinen hasn't made any pumpkin pickles this year, and they're essential for such delish dishes as läskisoosi.

Sylvia said...

Wow!!!Those pickles looks really delicious

Shaun said...

Pille ~ I have not heard of pickled pumpkin before now. I'm really intrigued by it. I'm glad that there are allberries in the pickling liquid. When it is pumpkin season, I will definitely try this. Black pudding...well. that is a completely different story.

Pille said...

K&S – thanks! And now you’ve got a new recipe to try :)
Ibán – you could eat it as soon as it’s cool, but the flavours will develop a bit further if you leave it in the fridge for a few days (or weeks or months) first.
Kristopher – welcome to Nami-nami!! It’s not very common to eat pickles when still hot, but there’s no law against it either :) So glad you liked it. Pumpkin soup I like (there are few recipes on Nami-nami: here and here), and I’ve tried a wonderful pumpkin quiche (recipe here), but I’m yet to try the old-fashioned American pumpkin pie..

Evelin – enne vitsutamist??? Te olete ikka eriti tublid. Enne pole ju energiat?? :)

Jeanne – it’s not crunchy, but there’s some bite. Soft and mushy is no good!!

Jaanika – ma ei ole seni suur kõrvitsasalati austaja olnud, aga nagu ikka, enda tehtud on enda tehtud ja seega ka palju maitsvam :)

Tanna – pumpkin is good for pickling indeed!

DaviMack – oh, I do hope you’ll get to try this one day.. Much healthier and a pie, remember :)

SalulaidSolarte – well, I’ll be posting few Estonian Christmas recipes over the next week or so, just to keep you happy :) Just follow the other links in the post – there’s plenty of ideas!

H – no nädalakese võiks ikka külmkapis hoida. Mina panen tänavu vist soola-pipraga maitsestatud läbikasvanud sealihatüki (kõhutükk) paariks tunniks 150kraadisesse ahju ja küpsetan tasakesi pehmeks. Sain proovida sellist, hirmus hea oli (NB! Vett vms potti ei lisa; ahjupotil kindlasti kaas peal või siis fooliumiga kinni katta).
Antti – what’s wrong with Saarioinen?? I bet the Finnish version is sweeter (Finnish recipes usually are), so you may want to taste the pickling liquid and maybe add a bit more sugar.

Shaun – it’s an old staple here, and I never thought of it as particularly Estonian until recently.. MMm. You’re not keen to try black pudding?? It’s like haggis – a good one can be very really-really good, you know..

Kalva, Sylvia – thank you

bird's eye view said...

This is interesting, and sounds like petha, which is an Indian version, but, believe it or not without the spices. It's basically batons of marrow in a really thick sugar syrup - yumm...

Anonymous said...

It's really nice recipe.Actually i tested it in restaurants after that i search for the pumpkin recipe.And now i got it.

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2friendscooking said...

looking for little things to make as gifts for xmas and this will be lovely.In Italy we will have to use the Mantovan yellow squash I think,not the orange one.. love your blog

viagra online said...

My mother always prepared me pickled pumpkin when I was sick, generally when I have flu. Since then it's one of my favorite desserts. However, I have to make this one, because you use some different ingredients.