pumpkin preserve

Pieces of pumpkin are transformed into sweet and glistening amber-colored jewels in this recipe for Pumpkin preserve. it is crunchy outside and creamy inside, usually we replace the ordinary breakfast table preserves with these little gems.

Pumpkin is not popular in the Mediterranean but the pumpkin preserve is very popular in Syria specially in Latakia.

If you try to cube up some pumpkin and just boil them in syrup, the cell walls in the pumpkin will break down and you will end up with a mushy, liquid mess. For this reason, you’ll need a special ingredient to achieve the firmness in these preserves.

Calcium hydroxide  is the secret to solidifying the sides of the pumpkin pieces and keeping them from disintegrating during boiling.




2 lb pumpkin diced

4 Tablespoons pickling lime mixed into 8 cups of water  

3/4 - 1 lb white sugar - or less according to your liking.

Juice from 1 lemon.

 2 cinnamon sticks.

Anise seeds.

1/2 tsp nutmeg powder- optional I did not use it.



 Peel and cube the pumpkin into ¾ to 1 inch sized pieces.

Gently mix the pickling lime powder into 8 cups of water in a glass bowl. Put the cubed pumpkin into this solution and put a small plate over the pumpkin to submerge. Set this bowl aside for 6-8 hours.

After soaking in the pickling lime solution, remove the pumpkin and submerge and rinse in fresh water. Do this 3 times, changing the water each time, to ensure that all the calcium hydroxide has been removed. Drain the pumpkin and set aside.

Make your syrup by boiling a liter of water, 1 kg of sugar, cinnamon sticks, cloves, anise seeds and nutmeg powder in a large pot. Bring it to a boil. Put the pumpkin cubes in the syrup and return to a boil.

When the pumpkins in syrup come to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 2 hours and 15 minutes. It sounds like a long time but you only need to stir it every 30 minutes or so.

After simmering the whole time, the pumpkin preserves can now be carefully spooned into mason jars for canning or into jars with a rubber-gasketed lids. Pour the hot syrup into the jars to submerge the pumpkin pieces and seal.


Lara Khouli