Latvians are in to preserving things. Fruit, vegetables, berries, mushrooms – you name it, we preserve it. It all relates to winter – it is (literally) freezing cold for 6-7 months of the year and the opportunity to grow and eat fresh produce is quite limited. Preserves in a form of jam, marmalade, marinating, salting, curing, pickling, drying, smoking, canning and bottling is the next best thing.
However, preserving is not only done to keep nature’s gifts edible over the winter. It is also used to create fast and flavoursome side dishes. Marinated pumpkin is one example – cubed pumpkin is marinated in spices and vinegar and served as salad at parties.
- 1 pumpkin (around 800g)
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 8 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Cut the pumpkin in half lengthways. Remove seeds and pulp. Peel the skin of the pumpkin.
- Cut the pumpkin in 1.5cm cubes.
- Place the water, sugar and vinegar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add cloves and cinnamon, let the syrup simmer for 10 minutes on medium-low heat.
- Add the cubed pumpkin to the liquid and continue to simmer for another 5-7 minutes until the pumpkin becomes translucent but is still firm.
- Let the pumpkins and the liquid cool. The pumpkin is edible as soon as cooled down, but it tastes the best if left overnight to marinate in the syrup.
There is an alternative recipe for marinating the pumpkin that uses lemon juice and a tablespoon of citric acid instead of vinegar. I have tried both recipes - vinegar gives the pumpkin more bite and stronger flavour and works best with savoury dishes, while pumpkin with lemon juice is more like a desert. Same recipe can be used if preserving the pumpkin for winter - just make sure jars are sterilised before use and cover the pupmkin completely with the syrup.