Lacto-fermented pumpkin is a great way to celebrate fall, and yields a firm but delicious addition to any meal. For this recipe, we used a sugar pumpkin, which is known as the best baking pumpkin out there. You can also substitute any winter squash or gourd in this great recipe.
It’s also a new and different way to add the nutrients in pumpkins to your diet, while still consuming the beneficial lactobacillus to help keep your digestive system healthy.
You can also play around with the spices. So, if cinnamon and nutmeg aren’t your thing, try your own special customized blend of spices. I like cinnamon and nutmeg, though, because they add a little bit of spiciness to the ferment, and summon the feel of colored leaves and crisp air better than anything else out there.
One word of warning – don’t skip the Himalayan salt. It will stop the bad bacteria from growing, without interfering with lactobacillus, which is stronger and better able to resist salt.
You can use a starter, juice from a previous ferment, or allow the lactobacillus and healthy good-for-you bacteria to grow using the rind from your pumpkin, squash or gourd since the beneficial bacteria love the outside of fruits and vegetables.
How to use fermented pumpkin
So the next question, once you have your fermented pumpkin on hand, is to decide how you will use your freshly-fermented pumpkin pieces.
I like to blend it into smoothies for a probiotic treat, and children love it this way. It’s a sneaky way to introduce beneficial bacteria into their diet while making it easy for them to say “YES!” to a food they might otherwise avoid.
Another option is to grate it or chop it in a blender and add it on top a leafy green salad for a nutritiously different flavor.
How to make Lacto-Fermented Pumpkin
• 1 pound sugar pumpkin, cut from the rind and into 1” pieces
• 1 tablespoon Himalayan Salt
• A piece of rind or starter culture
• Filtered water
• 1 cinnamon stick, about 3” length
• ½ tsp fresh nutmeg
1. Remove the rind from the pumpkin but reserve a small piece for later. Compost the remaining rind, or use it in another recipe.
2. Remove the seeds and “guts” of the pumpkin.
3. Cut the flesh of the pumpkin into 1-inch pieces until you have about a pound, or enough to fill a wide-mouthed mason jar.
4. Assemble the pumpkin pieces into the jar. Include the small piece of rind if you are not using a starter or reserved brine from a prior batch.
5. In a separate container, mix the salt with some filtered water, and add to the pumpkin, along with the remaining ingredients.
6. Fill with filtered water, leaving a 1” gap at the top, and shake to incorporate all the ingredients together.
7. Add a weight on top so the pumpkin stays submerged.
Allow to ferment for about 7 days, or to taste. Sugar pumpkin, if allowed to ferment too long, will begin to taste like alcohol, so a shorter fermentation time is necessary.
Fermenting pumpkin really is that easy – it’s no different than any other fruit or vegetable that you ferment, but it’s so different, that it’s almost like getting a healthy probiotic dessert!
Maat van Uitert is a professional writer and homesteader based in the South. Maat is a fermenting nut who specializes in making cheeses, yogurts, probiotic sauces and condiments to spice up and create flavorful meals. You can read more about Maat and her homestead at FrugalChicken, where Maat helps everyday people achieve independence by raising chickens, learning traditional skills, and becoming more self-sufficient. You can also catch up with her on her weekly podcast, What The Cluck?!, available on iTunes now.