Candied Pumpkin

("Zuccata”-“Cucuzzata”)

 

In Sicily the yellow pumpkins are abundant and cooked as appetizers, side dishes and in a sweet version used in breads, cookies, sweets and cakes. Pumpkins preserved with sugar in Italian are called “zuccata or in Sicilian cucuzzata”. The winter squash and at times the skin of the watermelon are processed and candied, cured with sugar and used for garnish or mixed with various creams. To make the marmalade or the preserve, green ripe zucchine-squash are cooked shortly with sugar and a few drops of lemon juice; fresh zucchine are available year around in all supermarkets. The following are easy recipes to make the jam or marmalade and the candied quash.

 

 

 

The Zucchini Marmelade (“Conserva di Zucca” “A Cucuzzata”)

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 lbs. of zucchini
  • 2 cups of sugar (1 lb.) (Approximately)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove

 

PREPARATION

Place the zucchini in a basin with cold water for a few minutes.
Using a brush, gently scrub the zucchini under running water to remove any sand or down, the soft feathery substance that grows on the soft skin of the zucchini. Cut off the stems and cut each zucchini in 3 or 4 pieces; discard the seeds. In a large saucepan, place the squash with a pinch of salt. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain and place in a colander to cool, and then set on a kitchen towel to dry: cover and rest 12 to 24 hours.
Weight the dry zucchini and place in a saucepan with the sugar, the lemon juice, ¼ cup of water and the clove. The sugar should weight ¾ of the weight of the dry zucchini; the correct weight can be easily obtained by multiplying the weight of the zucchine in ounces  by 0.75.

Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and stirring occasionally, simmer for 35 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed.

 

Remove from the heat, discard clove, and stir mixture with a whip to homogenize the marmalade. Transfer into a glass jar. It can be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks.

 

 

Candied Squash (“Zuccata”- “Cucuzza ‘Ncilippata”)

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs. of squash
  • 2 cups of sugar (1 lb.)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 stick of cinnamon

 

PREPARATION

Cut the squash into large pieces, peel and discard the seeds. 
In a large saucepan, place the squash and sprinkle abundantly with salt. 
After 1 hour, cover the salted squash with water and leave it in the brine for an additional hour than rinse thoroughly a few times, to eliminate any remaining salt.
Soak in water overnight, at room temperature, changing the water a few times. 
Place the squash in large clay or stain steel saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Drain and place in a colander to cool.
Weigh the squash, place in the saucepan and add the sugar in an equal amount of the weight of the squash. Add the juice of 1 lemon, the stick of cinnamon and cook gently at a low heat. After the sugar melts turn the squash occasionally. Cook it for 25 minutes; remove from the heat and storage in a cool place. Do not refrigerate. Let it rest overnight.
The next day, over a low heat, cook the squash for an additional 10 minutes, after the sugar starts to melt. Move the pieces of squash to coat them with the sugar glaze.
Remove from the heat, transfer into a glass jar and pour any glaze left in saucepan over the top.  
Zuccata can be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks.