Sweet Pumpkin Pickles (adapted from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving)
1. Prepare canner, lids and jars (if you're going to store these in the fridge to use immediately don't worry about this part)
2. Tie cinnamon stick half, allspice and cloves in a square of cheesecloth, creating a spice bag. Set aside (or do like I did and just make the brine with it all floating around on the surface and then take a slotted spoon and just fish the spices before you can everything...I couldn't find my cheesecloth at that moment :).
3. In a large sauce stainless steel (or non reactive!) saucepan, combine lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, vinegar and spices. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Cover, reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes. Add pumpkin, return to a boil and cook for 3 minutes to heat the pumpkin through. Discard spices.
4. Pack hot pumpkin into jar (I use a slotted spoon and added the pumpkin to the jars WITH a canning funnel to keep the rim of the jar clean) within a generous 1/2 inch to the top of the jar. Ladle hot syrup into jars to cover pumpkin to a generous 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles (a wooden spoon handle works slick for this. Just push it down around the perimeter of the jar to get all the air bubbles out that you can find) and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding more hot syrup. Wipe rim of jar to make sure you don't have any particles on the rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight (remember no matter how tight you get your band, the band is ONLY there to hold the lid onto the jar. The cooling of the contents of the jar create the vacuum seal, so tightening for all you are worth isn't going to do anything).
5. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered by water (2 inches at least is recommended). Bring to a boil and process for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store
Love your canning tips! Thanks!