Love It or Hate It
Sweet-and-Sour Pickled Pumpkin

Pumpkin Photo: Aphra Adkins © Goethe-Institut

Sweet-and-sour pickled pumpkin: you either love it or hate it. As far as I can tell, there’s really nothing in between. But if you are a sweet-and-sour pickled pumpkin lover, you’ll need a fair amount of patience to make it because four weeks can feel like an eternity!

Aphra Adkins and Britta Gädtke

Why patience?

It’s not complicated at all to make sweet-and-sour pickled pumpkin. The most difficult step, depending on the variety and its hardness, is cutting the pumpkin up. But once the rind is “cracked,” cutting the fruit into small pieces is quick work. And preparing the brew isn’t rocket science. Then, you just put everything in canning jars and process them in boiling water.

The biggest challenge is the waiting time that follows the canning process. When you know how delicious these sweet and sour veggies are, it’s hard to wait four whole weeks for them. The beautiful golden-orange jars on the basement shelf shout to anyone passing by, “Why wait?!? Open me!” But you must resist this temptation and allow the flavor to be absorbed into the pumpkin. You’ll be rewarded for waiting to the end.

My friends also love my pumpkin. I always make larger quantities, so I can give jars to my pumpkin-loving friends, handing them their treasure with the admonition, “Please don’t open it right away, wait another four weeks!” Their responses range from eye-rolling to low grumbles. In the end, though, everyone is thrilled because it’s just not the same as buying a ready-made jar of sweet-and-sour pickled pumpkin in the supermarket. Isn’t it a pity that we always want everything so fast these days? Fast meals, fast meetings, finishing everything quickly. Speed cannot be equated with goodness! Sometimes, it’s better to spend some time standing still. The result is usually so much better!


  • 2.5 kilograms (5.5 pounds) of pumpkin, preferably firm cooking varieties like Muscat pumpkin or Blue Hubbard squash
  • 500 milliliters (16 ounces) of clear apple cider vinegar
  • 1250 grams (5.5 cups) of sugar
  • 1.5 liters (53 ounces) of water
  • 6 to 7 cloves, whole
  • 2 to 3 cinnamon sticks


Remove the skin, seeds, and soft flesh around the seeds of the pumpkin. Now, cut the flesh into three-quarter-inch cubes, approximately. Put them in a bowl, and pour the apple cider vinegar over them. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap, and let it stand overnight at room temperature. From time to time, give the bowl and its contents a little shake.
Pumpkin Photo: Aphra Adkins © Goethe-Institut The next day, drain the liquid into a pot, and bring it to a boil with the water and spices. Now, put the pumpkin cubes in the liquid in portions, and blanch them briefly. Don’t let it stand too long to prevent the pieces of pumpkin from getting too soft.

Fill the pumpkin cubes tightly into jars, and fill the jars to the brim with the pumpkin stock. If there’s any liquid leftover, you can store it in the refrigerator for a day or two or preserve it in a jar, in case you have any leftover pumpkin, and you want to preserve it.

Tip: You can divide the cinnamon sticks and cloves from the stock among the jars, but keep in mind that the flavor becomes more intense with time. If you don’t like that, simply discard the spices.

Close the jars with rubber rings, lids, and clamps, and process them in a preserving pot or double boiler for 30 minutes at 90°C/194°F. Do not remove the clamps until the jars have cooled completely.

Allow the sweet-and-sour pickled pumpkin to steep in the jar for AT LEAST three, preferably four, weeks before consuming. It gets tastier with time!

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