Spicy Pumpkin Vinegar, made from pulps I could have thrown out. A glorious enzymatic condiment for brightening, souring, finishing and … drinking! Pumpkin Scrap-cum-Vinegar plus Fermented Chilli Pepper Skins is a match made in heaven… or Upcycling Kitchen-Counter-Culture paradise, at least…
Once upon a time we carved a pumpkin for Halloween, and instead of roasting the seeds, I fermented them for a scrap vinegar. This is such an easy thing to do. Cover your fruit scraps (in this case, the scooped-out pumpkin seeds embedded in the stringy stuff) in about triple the volume of water. Add a tablespoon or two of sugar, which will inspire an alcoholic fermentation; keep stirring, periodically exposing your mixture to air, and you will get acetic acid fermentation– that easy. (The link above will give more detail if you don’t believe me.)
A.K.A. Pumpkin Wild Vinegar, after lots of stirring and bottle-burping and exposure to air, and time:
(You could also try making it, as I might next time, with the skins and odd bits from a roasted squash, because cooked fruit works too:
This vinegar was kind of …. weird. It had a raw squash aroma that never quite mellowed with the sour of vinegar. I kept wanting to find a use for it but found it mildly …. gross. That’s not quite fair. It just, I dunno, challenged my sense of boundaries, though I was pleased with its colour.
Fast forward to today:
I’ve been making a hot sauce with the flavours of Harissa because it’s so delicious. I pureed the fermented hot peppers and garlic, and whizzed them with the spices and some oil, for a puree still chunky with skins and seeds. Pushed it all through a sieve, atop a funnel, into a bottle. And I wanted to put the scraps in the sieve to good use.
You can see how tidy and organised I am in the photo!
Then there was that Eureka moment — why not try to make something of that Pumpkin Vinegar that in all this time has only made it into one single Chickpea Curry and tasted pretty good you agree but you might not be that thrilled to use a whole tall bottle this way.
So pour your Pumpkin Vinegar into your sieved Lacto-Fermented Chilli Pepper Skins and Seeds which would be wasted anyway and let it all infuse for a day, covering the bowl. Of course you could infuse this for a lot longer too! But I got impatient, strained the vinegar again, bottled it, and … WOW.
The heat of the spice took the flat raw pumpkin flavour somewhere new. Tasting it, my mind went to Bloody Marys on a Sunday morning, to Tabasco sauce, to dark deep Chili Bean stews, to the last moment of a lentil soup, and to forming the base for a further Fire Cider as a most amazing DIY medicine.
Really chuffed to have made something so amazing from the parts of food usually just chucked…
Going to keep this one, such a vivid orangey-red, in the fridge and try to use it up soon– hoping the vinegar will stay at its brightest, fresh chill- infused best. (Though maybe in ten years it will save me from some apocalyptic virus )
One afterthought: you could throw the chili pepper scraps (or whole) into the fruit scraps from the very beginning, and see what would happen.