Winter Preserve

Just because it’s winter does not mean you can’t make jam from local fresh fruit.

Guess what kind of jam I am making?


Apricot you say? They are a chancy crop around here and I never get enough to freeze for later to make jam in the winter. Nope, it’s pumpkin – as bright a jam as apricot jam , indeed. Cooked with a little ginger, of course!

When I was growing up “Confiture de Citrouille” was made all around. The pumpkin was cut up in largish cubes (or sliced fairly thinly) and then simmered in syrup perfumed with a vanilla bean or two. Here in the US the primary use of pumpkin seems to be pumpkin pie or bread (a cake, really). But let me tell you that pumpkin is eminently versatile as a vegetable (whether roasted, gratineed, pureed, souped, or stewed; in lasagna and tortellini) and as a fruit (candied, tart, ice-cream, jam, cake, flan, soufflé) and – of course  – as both (chutney). Does that make it a well-rounded denizen of the vegetable kingdom or a vegetable with multiple personality disorder? mmm…

I have come across pumpkin jam recipes in old cookbooks and Southern ones, so it is surely not new. SO I am not sure why I have not come across it in the store (although I have seen pumpkin butter). But it is good, especially when made with ginger – one of my favorite spices (I can’t help it I grew up with the stuff – I suspect there was some in my baby food….). That twist I found in “Sensational Preserves” by Hilaire Walden.

Anyway, once you’ve made the stuff, you’ll find lots of way to use it: on toast, especially made from a rustic bread; with the traditional Virgina ham & biscuit – the sweet spiciness nicely offset the saltiness of the ham (always a hit at parties); in jam tarts and thumb-print cookies; over ice-cream or in ice-cream; cheese cake and ricotta tarts… and if you just want a little homemade something to give friends – it’s easy and you still have time to make it before Christmas. No need to drive yourself crazy hunting the stores. Just reach for that pumpkin!

Ginger Pumpkin Preserve

  • fresh pumpkin (or other firm bright sweet winter squash)
  • sugar
  • fresh ginger root
  1. Halve the pumpkin (or quarter depending on size) and bake until easily pierced (at 350F that’s 45 minutes to 1 hour). Let cool enough until comfortable to handle, remove and discard seeds. Scrape flesh from the skin (discard skin) and chop roughly. Do not make it smooth: you want some texture.
  2. Weight the pumpkin flesh. For each pound of pumpkin (500 g), measure a heaping 1 1/2 C of sugar (400 g), and a large piece of ginger – about the size of your thumb (30g).
  3. Peel, mince and pound the ginger to a paste (it’s OK if it’s not totally smooth). Mix all ingredients together in a large heavy-bottom non-reactive Dutch oven, and let sit in a cool place overnight or up to 24 hours.
  4. Slowly bring the mixture to boil, stirring as needed to prevent sticking. Gently boil for 15 minutes, stirring often. Pot up. Refrigerate or for longer storage process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath like any other jam.

8 thoughts on “Winter Preserve”

  • Sylvie, I’ve always wanted to try a pumpkin preserve, and now you’ve given me the courage to try. Those jars are beautiful, a nice colorful counterpoint to these dark days (and the white all around us here!). Do you know Christine Ferber’s book “Mes Confitures”? She has a few interesting pumpkin preparations. All best~ Brett

  • Khalil – you ought to try given the beautiful winter squashes you grew.

    Claudia – thank you!

    Mike – For you it’ll be the difficult question of which cultivar to use…

    Brett – it’s a treat and the brilliant color is a lift to the spirit at this time of the year. I had it with pancakes this morning – sort of comfort food, you know… I do not know “Mes confitures”, but when an upcoming visitor from France this past summer asked if I wanted anything, I sent a list of books. And so “Lecons de confitures” by Christine Ferber arrived. From simple to complex, from forgotten fruit to exotic ones, it’s been a marvelous book, well beyond jams but also chutneys, syrups etc. Only one disappointment so far and that was the pear vanilla jam – way to sweet…but not sure I had the right pear to start either.

  • Sylvie,

    We so enjoyed this lovely jam, which you shared with us when you catered our dinner party last Fall. My mouth still waters when I think about all the amazing dishes you prepared over that weekend.
    Is it possible to buy a jar or two of these preserves? I am planning my menu for the Spring races and love your ham biscuit idea (this would be a nice twist on the traditional).
    Best wishes, Katie Massie

  • I am looking forward to trying this. I have been searching for a recipe that mimicks my grandmothers Gingered Pumpkin Preserves. She of course is gone so I can’t ask her, as is my mom. My grandmothers recipe was chunks of pumpkin (I think it still had the rind on) with diced ginger root. I may modify your recipe to simulate my grandmothers. Thanks to you I have the racio of sugar to pumpkin and ginger.

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