Posted on October 5, 2009 by
Summer is over, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still opportunities to find local crops! Fall is a great time of year, not only for some fabulous outdoor activities, but also there are some fall crops that shouldn’t be missed including apples, grapes, greens, various cool weather squashes and my most favorite fall time crop…Pumpkin!
There are many things you can do with pumpkins…You can make mousse, breads, pies/tarts, cheesecakes, fudge, cupcakes, cookies, pumpkin butter, pancakes, soup, smoothies, muffins and yes even ice cream! Whew! Pumpkin is very versatile!
You can always buy pumpkin in a can, but today I’m going to show you how to roast your own, that you can use immediately or freeze for use later! When you set out to find the pumpkin for your jack-o-lantern be sure to pick up an extra because it’s fun this time of year to find the perfect pumpkin and put it to good use. You can even roast the pumpkin seeds as a tasty treat too! The process is a bit messy, but overall very easy and you’ll have pumpkin to use long after pumpkin season is over!
So first you want to find a good pumpkin. You can roast any type of pumpkin that you like. Sugar pumpkins (the smaller ones you see in your produce section this time of year) are normally considered “pie pumpkins” or your standard cooking pumpkin, but the big ones work too. You want a pumpkin that is firm, shows no signs of bruising and sounds like a watermelon when you thump it.
Once you’ve picked out your pumpkin bring it home and wash it really well to ensure all the dirt is removed. Pat it dry. Now you’re ready to start cooking with your pumpkin!
Before you start cutting up your pumpkin you’ll want to get all of your things together:
You need a large roast pan, a cutting board, a bowl for your pumpkin insides, a bowl with a colander for your pumpkin seeds, a bread knife, a large cutting knife, a small serrated knife and a large spoon.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Before we start cutting let’s talk a little bit about knife safety. Pumpkins are very tough to cut so you need to be very careful. Watch where your fingers are at all times and make sure to keep them out of the way of the blade. It helps to use a very sharp knife, as it will make the cutting easier. Serrated knifes also help on the toughest parts of the pumpkins on the ends. Use whichever knife feels better to you and remember watch those fingers!
OK, now we cut! Your first step is to cut the top off your pumpkin:
I find it easier to use a bread knife to help “saw” off the top, but again use whichever knife feels most comfortable to you.
Once the top is removed lay it on your cutting board and cut around the stem. Scrape off any pumpkin strings until the inside on the top of the pumpkin is clean and then cut the remaining pieces of the top into chunks:
(Note: All the parts that you remove, including the stem can be composted.) Place chunks into your baking pan.
Now you want to cut your pumpkin in half:
Remember to watch your fingers!
Next you want to remove the seeds from the pumpkin:
The easiest way to remove the seeds is to simply pick them out with your fingers and place them in a bowl with a colander sitting in it:
They actually pull out quite easily and this makes it easier to wash them so you can roast them. You can go here to find out a really simple way to roast the seeds, but how fabulous do roasted pumpkin seeds look?:
Next you want to take a spoon and scrape out the pumpkin strings:
You may also need to use the small serrated knife in places if the strings just won’t let go.
Once the inside of the pumpkin is cleaned, cut it into chunks and place in your roasting pan:
Depending on the size of your pumpkin you may need to roast several batches. Once your baking dish is full, either fill another one if there is room in your oven, or roast in batches. Also don’t worry about removing the skin, we’ll get to that after the roasting is done.
Let the pumpkin roast for 1-2 hours, until fork tender:
The edges may caramelize a bit, that’s not a big deal. Remove pumpkin from the oven and let sit and cool to room temperature.
When the pumpkin has cooled, take a spoon and slide the flesh of the pumpkin off into a bowl or into your food processor:
The cooked pumpkin will slide right off of the skin. The skin can be composted too.
Now you want to mash the pumpkin until relatively smooth:
I like to do this with my food processor, but you can use a food mill or potato masher if you prefer.
Now the pumpkin is ready to use. You can use it in place of canned pumpkin in any recipe. You can also freeze it for later. I like to freeze it in 2 cups increments. This pumpkin ended giving me about 12 cups of pumpkin once it was done.
What do you like to do with pumpkin?