I am one of these people who does not really follow recipes per se, unless it’s for something picky like bread or desserts, for some reasosn I have learned these things require more following less doctoring. At any rate my latest experiment is to process a pumpkin.
The prevailing wisdom is that you should only use special bred pie pumpkins or your pie won’t work. I have processed pie pumpkins, and then being the mother of a one year old (who is three and a half now) the roasted pumpkin went into the fridge and was forgotten till it was a science project. This year on a cooking show, okay it was “Throw Down with Bobby Flay”, I seen the chef he was challenging do the pie from a big non pie pumpkin nearly as I could tell.
So I got three pumpkins this year, being it’s me husband and daughter, we intended to carve three, but hub was only up for two. The third one sat beckoning on the counter for about a week. On a get away weekend with my sis and Mom, my Mom commented that if I spent as much time cleaning my house as I do trying to cook things, my house would be absolutely spotless. That pretty much meant I was going to do the pumpkin this week and worry less about fixin the vacuum.
So here’s what I did, I carved the pumpkin into vertical strips, and cleaned the seeds and slimey tenticle things off. You have to use freshly carved pumpkin you can't use your old jack o lantern. I find that 1/8 slices make it easier to cut away all that crud with a knife than using a spoon to scrape at it for forever and a day. My husband put up the pumpkin carving tools and couldn’t remember where, so I couldn’t use that oh so handy scraper thingy.
Next step is to arrange the pumpkin slices on a jelly roll pan. I had to do it in shifts because I had a large pumpkin, unless you are a master chef that has multiple ovens, in which case you probably already know how to process pumpkins. You could use a rimmed cookie sheet, but the jelly roll pan has hirgher rims which make it easier to contain water. You need about ¼ a cup of water sprinkled over the pumpkin slices. Then you cover completely with tin foil, and roast in a 375 oven until the pumpkin is fork tender, about an hour or so.
Then you have to take the skin off the pumpkin and put it into a big tall bowl so you can use a hand blender, or a food processor would work too, as well as a blender. Remember when you use a blender with hot food, you need to take the center of the lid out and cover it with a towel, so the hot steam relased from the chopping food doesn’t blow the top out. I also added some of the liquid from the jelly roll pan to the puree.
Then I let the purees cool quite a bit. I took two cups of puree at a time and put it into a freezer bag, and froze it. Then I let some hang out in the fridge for a couple of days. When I went to make pumpkin muffins I had to strain the pumpkin a bit.
To strain pumpkin puree you need a flour sack towel, you knoe the kind Grandma always embroidered cuties things on and gave to everyone as Christmas gifts. I love it when people give me cute gifts of flour sack towels with cuties things embroidered on it. At any rate take your clean flour sack towel and place it inside a fine mesh sieve or collander placed over a bowl.
Let the pumpkin drain till it’s not dripping, about three hours, out of about three cups of pumpkin I got about two cups of liquid, but I still had about two and a half cups of pumpkin puree. Not sure how that worked but what do I know from physics right?
After that you can use the pumpkin as you like in any recipe. I don’t think that I noticed that much of a taste difference from the canned, but the people eating my pumpkin muffins at hub’s office were floored. Well and I knew that the pumpkin to be used was preservative free and organically grown. We might plant the pumpkins earlier next year so we can get more, that is if I get my little freezer.
Now you have pumpkin you can use for cakes soups desserts and what not. Enjoy!