Don’t throw away that left over pumpkin pie or pie filling.
Freeze Dry it!
I know it’s the middle of summer and most of you are not thinking about left over pumpkin in any form or fashion. However, you might think of or already have cleaned out your pantry or freezer. If you’re like me, you’ll find leftover stuff from time gone by.
That’s what happened to me. Since we bought our freeze dryer, I’ve been trying to keep it running as much as possible. I am in the experimental and is this machine really worth it stage. Plus, how can I incorporate freeze dried food into my daily life to make my life easier, healthier, and save on food money?
Purpose: Why freeze dry pumpkin pie filling?
My first purpose was to help clean out the freezer. My second purpose was to experiment with the freeze dryer and figure out what we could freeze dry successfully. Successfully meaning being able to have a good outcome from the food and liking it either reconstituted or freeze-dried.
Last Thanksgiving, I’d made too many pies and had too much left over pumpkin pie filing. The extra pumpkin pie filling I poured into aluminum pie tins cooked, cooled, put into airtight bags, and froze. I did the same with the pies, but they had a crust.
On a quick side note, after learning about the detriment of aluminum, I won’t be freezing or cooking anything in it anymore. But that is a different conversation for a later time.
Between November 2022 and today, we tried a few of those pies and filling. Some we ate thawed, others we tried heated. And we didn’t like any of them. So pies and filling sat in the freezer, for I didn’t want them to go to waste.
The Process of freeze drying cooked pumpkin pie filling.
I started with the cooked and frozen pie filling first. When I get around to freeze drying pies with crust, I’ll let everyone know how that worked out as well.
I started my freeze drying machine according to the manufacturer’s directions for freeze drying frozen foods. I’ve learned it takes the machine about 45 minutes to go from room temperature to ready for the trays with frozen food on it.
Setting the freeze drying trays up.
- Flip the pie tins face down on a cold metal cookie sheet. (You can use a cutting board as well. However, I found the pumpkin defrosted quickly, making it difficult to slice.
- Take off the tin so it’s just the cooked and frozen pumpkin pie filling.
- Using a butcher knife, slice the molded filling about 1/2 an inch thick.
- Cut the slices into bite-size pieces and place on the freeze drying tray. (As I finished each tray, I put the tray back into the freezer.
- As long as the pieces don’t touch each other, you’re good.
- I ended up fitting four nine-inch pies on my 4 trays.
Once the freeze dryer was ready, I slid the trays in and followed the directions on the screen.
How did the freeze-dried pumpkin pie filling work out?
Prep time: 20 minutes. This included cutting, filling the trays and putting them back into the freezer.
Freeze drying time: 16 hours and 8 minutes from the time I put the trays in to pulling them out done. I didn’t have to extend the time.
Storing: About 10 minutes. I filled four quarts and sealed them with a canning jar sealer. I didn’t put any air absorbers in them because I knew we would eat them within the month.
Freeze-dried: Amazing. The finished treats were pop in your mouth delicious. They were very light and crunchy. And the taste was amazing! It tasted like fresh pumpkin pie.
Reconstituted: We didn’t reconstitute the freeze-dried pumpkin pie filling. We didn’t like the pies unfrozen, so I figured we wouldn’t like it reconstituted either.
The frozen pumpkin pie filling was worth freeze drying. It tasted great! The pumpkin didn’t go to waste, and I had cleaned part of my freezer out.
The biggest proof of success was that kids and grandkids alike from 7 years old to 30 all loved it. One person, before they tasted it, said they didn’t like pumpkin pie. Yet they had a few pieces after the first taste.
What would I do differently next time?
Next time I make pumpkin pie I will purposely make extra filling. I will cook it on cookie trays, making it easier to cut up. Then freeze the pumpkin in the trays. Once frozen, I’ll cut it into both large and small pieces to see which works best. Once I have enough food for a full freeze dryer load, I will freeze dry them.
Storage will be more mindful. I’ll store some in canning jars with and without oxygen absorbers. And the rest in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers for longer storage time.
How can you enjoy this if you don’t bake pies?
If you have a friend who does bake, ask them to bake you some pumpkin pie filling on a tray or an extra pie. Bribe them with some finished treats. Buy a pumpkin pie or more from your favorite bakery or farmers’ market and freeze dry it.
Remember, you don’t have to be perfect in becoming more food self sufficient. You just have to try new things. Enjoy!