Saturday, November 7, 2009

Pumpkin Shortage

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One of my favorite vegetabl-es (or is it a fruit?) is rumored to have a shortage this fall. 

This article was in the LA Times:
By Jerry Hirsch October 10, 2009
"Pumpkin pie lovers be warned: You may not find your favorite can of pie filling at the supermarket. There's a national shortage of canned pumpkin and pie filling, a result of poor weather that reduced last year's crop. Shoppers report finding bare shelves, and the supermarkets say they have been put on an "allocation," or quota, system by Libby's, a division of food giant Nestle that controls more than 80% of the canned pumpkin market. Libby's typically uses surpluses from the previous year to stock store shelves during September and October, when the annual pumpkin harvest gets underway. Wet conditions during last year's growing season left canners without a surplus this year, said Roz O'Hearn, a Libby's spokeswoman. But this year's crop is on its way. "We began shipping Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin [filling] in late September, so it should be on grocer's shelves soon," she said.
Shoppers could find the filling a bit more expensive this year. Libby's has a suggested retail price of $1.59 for its 15-ounce can and a suggested price of $2.59 for its 29-ounce cans of pure pumpkin and pumpkin pie mix. O'Hearn said the prices represented a "small increase" over last year because of higher expenses for the steel that goes into the cans and higher grower costs. She did not provide a percentage increase."
  • So it looks like we may pay a little more for our canned pumpkin this year and one way to save some money is to puree your own pumpkin. If you still have some cooking pumpkins left over from Halloween now is the time to actually cook them. It is really quite simple. Pumpkin can be boiled, or baked and both ways you'll need to start by scooping out all the stringy stuff and then cutting the pumpkin into pieces.
  • Simmer Method: cut pumpkin into 3-4 inch pieces and remove skin with knife and boil 35-40 minutes.
  • Baking Method: cut pumpkin in half and then into quarters if too big. Place flesh side down in about 1" of water and cover with foil. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours or until tender.
  • After your pumpkin is cooked it needs to be mashed. A potato masher, blender or food processor will work, you pick your favorite. Now your pumpkin is ready to freeze. About 7 C of pumpkin puree will make about 2 pies so freeze according to your recipe. Remember that your homemade version will have a lot more water in it and you'll probably be able to omit the water or liquid in your pumpkin recipes. You could also strain your pumpkins before you freeze it. Cheesecloth would work in a strainer over a bowl in the fridge over night.
  • I love pumpkin bread, muffins and pancakes. I love to sneak healthy food in yummy treats. Pumpkin muffins are part of my 3 month supply menu and I need about 4of the bigger cans of pumpkin puree to last my family 3 months. Don't worry if you use pumpkin and don't have any to cook because I am going to find the lowest price on canned pumpkin and we will all get our pumpkin stored.
Pumpkin Muffins (makes 24 muffins)
from: The Essential Food Storage Cookbook
By: Tami Girsberger and Carol Peterson (great Christmas present)
3 C flour (2 c wheat & 1 C white)
2 t baking soda
2 t cinnamon
1 t salt
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t cloves
1 C butter (2 sticks)
2 C sugar
4 eggs (I use powdered eggs)
1 150z can pumpkin
12 oz chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. Mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and ginger together. Cream the butter and sugar and then add the eggs and pumpkin; add to dry ingredients. (fold in chocolate chips if you like) Pour into 2 muffin tins. (this recipe makes 24 muffins) Bake for 22-25 minutes. I freeze 12 of them for a dinner later in the month and they freeze wonderfully.
This example of a pumpkin shortage just reinforces my belief in food storage. We are not just storing for a disaster. We are storing food for many reasons and food shortages are one of them. I encourage all of you to look at what food storage you do have and to find the parts that you may be lacking. Keep a list of items that you need and watch the grocery lists that I post on Wednesday's to be able to stock up on your items affordably. I know we can all do this and feel the peace of having food storage.

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