I know, I know, why in the world would you want to cook down a pumpkin, when you can easily buy it in a can? Well here’s my two cents worth on why.
#1 The taste is AMAZING and who doesn’t want the best tasting pie or bread or whatever?
#2 It’s more nutritious than the canned stuff you buy at the store.
#3 It’s really easy and you’ll feel amazing putting up your harvest and dazzling all your friends with your down home ‘putting by’ skills.
#4 Now for my personal favorite, When your 7-year-old grandson asks ‘Hey Zuzu (that’s what I’m called by our grandkids) why are all your pumpkins so little?’,
you’ll have a good reason, sort of.
Here’s the story……..
Paul’s favorite pie is pumpkin, and I aim to please so I’ve grown small sugar pie pumpkins for years. They are super easy to grow, and give an abundance of pumpkins that keep well and have an amazing texture and taste.
I do have to admit that I may be slipping a bit in my garden planning. Okay, to be honest my garden planning consists mostly of ideas, drawings, and fluid dreams, that somehow hardly ever make it to paper where they could be useful. Instead I get so into planting some things that alas, (sigh) I miss others, like carving pumpkins.
That was a serious epic Zuzu fail! To make it even worse I actually hadn’t even noticed until harvest time when two of our grandkids & I were perusing the patch and they noticed their absence. Soooo, like all good Grandmas I acted like I meant to do that and taught the kids how to cook down a pumpkin instead!
For those of you thinking, why don’t you just grow carving pumpkins and cook them? I’ll tell ya why, they taste terrible. You might as well just save yourself some work and use the canned stuff.
First cut your pumpkins in half .
Next scoop out all the guts and seeds.
I really doubt that my grandkids give a hoot where their pumpkin comes from, but they were good sports and really half the fun of carving pumpkins is having your hands in pumpkin guts and being together!
Make sure to save the seeds and roast for Pepitas. Here’s a quick how to: Place the seeds in a colander and rinse under cold water. When they look clean, spread out on a cookie sheet to air dry and turn them every now and then. I leave mine out overnight. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and toss to coat. Then you can add a little salt, cayenne, or whatever you like. Pop into a 250 degree oven for about an hour and viola, you now have another amazing skill!
Next cut the pumpkins down to slices that are easy to handle and put skin side down on a baking sheet. I like to prick the slices a few times with a fork, to help them cook faster and more importantly the kids had fun doing it.
Roast in a pre-heated 350 degree oven until somewhat soft and the flesh easily pulls away from the skin. I don’t want to give you a time because depending on the pumpkin it’s always different. This batch took about 45 minutes.
Once they are cool enough to handle , scoop out the flesh from the skins. Put the skins in the compost bucket and the flesh in the food processor. I’m being very clear on this point as apparently I wasn’t with the kiddos and they did it backwards. Oops, dump that batch and start over. Depending on the type of pumpkin you roasted you may want to let the pulp sit in a sieve and drain out some of the moisture, but small sugar pies won’t need this step. If your puree looks a little dry just add some water.
Now you can use this right away or put up into bags to freeze and use later. I put 3 cups per bag but do whatever amounts your pie or bread recipes call for.
That’s it easy peasy. Now off to the local pumpkin patch to find some good carvers!