When German troops invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the people in charge of logistics had to find ways to make use of locally available foodstuffs. One of the vegetables that they encountered lots of, was the pumpkin. Recipes were distributed to field kitchens, to allow the cooks to use this vegetable in a variety of ways. Here are recipes from two wartime Wehrmacht sources.
From the war diary of the 281. Sicherungs-Division, in the US National Archives:
Recipe 1: Pumpkin Soup
This recipe can be distributed to the troops as an appetizer or as a warm evening meal. The pumpkin is peeled, the exterior and core are removed, and then it is boiled in water and milk with cinnamon sticks, to form a nice, creamy stock.
Recipe 2: Pumpkin Marmalade
As a further use of pumpkin, the Lehrstab recommends pumpkin marmalade or puree. The pumpkin is peeled, washed, and sliced into thin slices using a slaw cutter, so that it can be salted in barrels, just like how white cabbage is made into sauerkraut, for 6-8 weeks. This can only be done in times of rest, as it is too difficult for a unit on the move.
Recipe 3: Sweet and Sour Pumpkin Compote
The pumpkin is peeled, the exterior and core are removed, it is diced into small cubes and boiled. The water in which the pumpkin is cooked is then boiled down with vinegar, cloves and sugar, to form a sauce. This is allowed to cool and poured over the pumpkin. After a couple of hours, the pumpkin is soaked through and tastes exquisite.
From the Wehrmacht cookbook “Östliche Speisen nach deutscher Art”
Pumpkin is well-suited for a compote, but can also be cooked together in goulash, stews, Milchreis etc. Before use, pumpkin has to be cut up, peeled, the core removed, and cut into small pieces.
Pumpkin as a vegetable: Boil the prepared pumpkin until done. Fry in fat with roasted onions and bacon. Season well with salt and spices. Serve mashed or thickened with a roux.
Brown pumpkin vegetable dish: Boil the prepared pumpkin in a little water. Add salt and a clove and cook until done. Prepare a brown roux. Add pumpkin broth to form a thick sauce. Add the pumpkin pieces to this sauce. Season sweet/sour- add some browned sugar and cook through with vinegar or water. Note: instead of vinegar you can also use lemon juice but do not boil it together with lemon juice. If it’s not possible to take the pumpkin pieces out of the broth, bind the pumpkin together with the broth, with the roux.
Pumpkin Puree with Rice: Boil the pumpkin in a little water, puree by using a sieve or machine. Boil 1 part rice in 2 parts pumpkin water and 2 parts milk, then cook over gentle heat until done. Add the cooked pumpkin and mix well. Season with salt and grated nutmeg. Serve whenever possible with brown butter poured over it. Instead of rice, corn grits, barley, buckwheat groats, or millet can be used. This recipe can also be switched for a sweet recipe; instead of salt, use sugar, and instead of nutmeg, use cinnamon.
Pumpkin, Hungarian Style: The prepared pumpkin pieces are sprinkled with salt and caraway seeds and allowed to sit for a few hours. In a little fat, fry 1 diced onion and some flour. Add a little water, stir until smooth and bring to a boil. Add the pumpkin pieces and cook until done. Season with some paprika and let the pumpkin soak up the sauce. Season with condensed milk and lemon juice.
Pumpkin for Gulasch and stews: Dice the prepared pumpkin and add to Gulasch or stews about 30-45 minutes before the stew is done, and cook together.
Pumpkin as compote: The prepared pumpkin is cooked in sugar water together with some vinegar, ginger or cloves until done.
To dry pumpkin: Peel the pumpkin, remove the core and cut into very thin slices. The slices can be threaded onto a string using a needle, and dried in the sun. If not threaded, the pumpkin slices can be dried on frames, in the air, ion the stove top, or in a not-too-warm baking oven.