Life, Left Over

Posts Tagged ‘technique

Now that you’ve carved, painted, or otherwise decorated with your pumpkin, it is time to prepare the pumpkin flesh. Pumpkins are a delicious food, so often relegated to mediocre pies made from canned, tasteless mystery veggie. Take back your fall baking by producing your own pumpkin puree for your fall recipes.

It’s going to be DELICIOUS.

Tools Needed:
Large cooking pot(s)
Large knife
Several bowls or buckets
Cutting board

You may want to have an idea of what recipes you want to use your pumpkin for before you continue. In general, most pumpkin recipes you find will call for canned pumpkin. The boiling method I describe below will yield something similar but much, much more tasty. If your recipe does NOT call for this, please disregard that part of my advice and chop, slice, or dice your pumpkin as you need!
I have seen other blogs suggest to just cut up or scrape your pumpkin and then pureĆ© it in a blender or food processor. I prefer this way for a few reasons – first, I’m not keen on the idea of burning out my blender motor. Second, if there are any germs or contaminants in the pumpkins, the boiling will kill them. And third, the texture of the pumpkin is much smoother and softer this way.

If you did not carve or decorate your pumpkin, and just want to eat it, here’s your part. There are a couple of ways you can dissect your pumpkin. You could open it from the top (and scrape it, if desired) and then cut the rind into sections. Or, if you’re confident, you can use your knife to “peel” the rind off and then cut up the flesh from there. In either case, I’d recommend dividing the regular flesh into one bowl, and the stringy part with the seeds attached into another bowl. It makes it slightly easier to deal with this way, but you don’t have to.

Two buckets of pumpkin. We harvested this from two medium-large pumpkins.

Gather all the scraped and cut parts of your pumpkin, whether you carved it or not. You’ll first want to separate the seeds from the flesh. Don’t throw them away! These are edible too! Get as many of them as you can into a bowl by themselves. The stringy fibers they are attached to are just as tasty as the rest of the flesh – separate them and put them in a bowl or on a cutting board. Earlier, you noticed that I suggested to try to keep the stringy bits in one bowl and the scraped bits in another. This way, the seeds will only be among the stringy parts, and will save you some time in sorting out the seeds.

This is easy, but it does get a little monotonous.

Just keep at it until you’ve got a nice pile of scraped pumpkin flesh. Use your knife to give it a rough chop, and dump it all in a big pot with some water. Let it boil a bit. You want it to soften enough to be mashed so you can use it in recipes.

This pot is the scraped flesh. You can toss it in with the stringy part if you want.

If you have chunks of pumpkin flesh, such as from a pie pumpkin, or from the cut-out parts of your carved pumpkin, now is the time for them. Make sure all the outer rind is cut off the flesh. The rind doesn’t taste good. Cut all of this hard flesh into small cubes (dice it, in other words). Diced pumpkin meat is great roasted with honey (like sweet potatoes and carrots). If that’s not what you’re looking for, put it in a pot, add water and boil until soft, as before (see above). In general, don’t try to cook this hard flesh with the softer flesh, since it will take longer to soften this part.

These need to be diced. And make sure there’s no rind.

When it’s soft, pour it into a colander and let it drain. You can squash it to get all the water and juice out if you need dryer pumpkin, or just let it drain naturally if you want wetter pumpkin. You can leave it natural, or you can puree it in your blender so it’s extra smooth. Store for a short time in your refrigerator if necessary, or use immediately! The pumpkin can probably be canned or jarred if you want to. I have never done this, but if you have, please share your success story in the comments!

This is less than half of the total pumpkin from this day.
From the 2 pumpkins we carved this day, we ended up with over 80 ounces of fresh delicious pumpkin (this is less than half of it), plus half a butter-tub of seeds.

Now that you have fresh soft pumpkin, you have a huge world of recipes opened up. Beyond the typical pies, pumpkin can be used in all kinds of muffins, breads, scones, soups, cookies, pancakes, cakes, delicious coffee drinks, and probably dozens of other things. Google away, my friend.

Here are some recipes that I am planning to try this year:
Pumpkin Soup (from Creature Comforts)
Pumpkin Cinnamon Streusel Pancakes (from Two Peas and their Pod)
Pumpkin Cranberry Coffee Cake (from Amanda’s Cookin)
Pumpkin Butter (from FitSugar)
Yummy Pumpkin Bread (from Passionate Homemaking)

Pumpkin Spice Latte (from YumSugar)

That wraps up this installment of our Pumpkin Extravaganza! I’ve left Thursday blank in my schedule to allow for special posts like today’s. Make sure you come back tomorrow for Food Friday. I’m making my own version of Pumpkin Muffins, and we’ll learn how to turn those seeds into delicious pepitas!


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