Pickled Pumpkin

by Kate Payne

I’m a sucker for fall—the season signaling a renewed love of pies, an influx of cinnamon-laden treats, the much-anticipated farewell to summer’s endless heat and, of course, pumpkin-flavored everything.

I turned my pumpkin paradigm upside down last year after I’d exhausted all other applications for our garden’s volunteer-pumpkin harvest. I’d souped, buttered and baked myself insane. Then I froze the remainder when the thought of consuming any more pumpkin, in any form, was too much to bear. Yet, I still had another large pumpkin staring me down on the counter.


Linda Ziedrich, author of The Joy of Pickling, mentored me in my early days of writing about food preservation, and her book remains one of my go-to preserving resources. Linda has two recipes for pickled pumpkin in her book; I modified the savory one to suit our palates’ pickle preferences.

While it’s true that starting with small, flavorful pumpkins will yield an intensely pumpkin-y pickle, ultimately the pumpkin variety doesn’t really matter for this project. Feel free to save those treasured pie pumpkins for what nature intended (making pie, of course). Substitute winter squash for the pumpkin, if desired.

This recipe only requires an eighth to a quarter of a medium-size pumpkin, but can also be scaled up to preserve a whole pumpkin. See the recipe modifications below to safely process in a water-bath canner. If sealing the jars, be sure to use vinegar with at least 5 percent acidity (check the label) and cut the pumpkin into cubes no larger than ¾ inch.

Since this pickle has more savory notes, it goes well with snacks and appetizers like cheese plates, in grains or green salads with roasted beets and pepitas or, alternately, over meats like pork or lamb.