Monday, November 1, 2010

Preserving Food ~ Baking and Freezing Pumpkin

While squash is abundant, we tend to squirrel it away for as much of the winter as we can. Some keep well (acorn, butternut, etc) and some keep less well (like pumpkins). This last year I realised that I use quite a bit of pumpkin puree though out the year and so I have made it a mission to try to get as much as I can from fresh, local, in-season pumpkins!

This is a super simple way to bake and save pumpkin puree for the winter!

First off. You need to know which pumpkins to buy. I buy either 'pie pumpkins', 'cheese pumpkins' or 'sugar pumpkins'. 'Carving pumpkins' will be watery, but WILL work. You will just have to strain your pulp for a while to get out the excess water. Sometimes a longer cooking time on your pie is required as well.

Second, you need to know if the pumpkins you are looking at are ripe. Many pumpkins that are brought in from out of state have been picked before they are ripe to beat the 'pumpkin' season. The basic test is the rind. If you poke the rind with your fingernail (not too hard... tapping works best) and it leaves a impression easily then the pumpkin you are looking for is not ripe. The rind on the outside of the pumpkin needs to be set good and hard for the inside to turn from starch to sugar. So the more ripe the pumpkin, the sweeter the meat! If you are in doubt on the ripeness, but found a good deal close by you, no worries! You can always allow pumpkins to 'cure' for a week or two inside with no problem at all. This will help the process along.

Ok, on to how to cook and save them:

Take the stem off and cut the pumpkin in half.

Then place the pumpkin on a cookie sheet you have dusted with a little bit of salt. This will help bring out the water in the pumpkin flesh and steam the pumpkin. It is not necessary to take the seeds out of the pumpkin. In fact, I consider it taking out valuable nutrients from the pulp if those are taken out before baking. The one exception is if you are going to roast and eat the seeds. Then take them out and roast away! (Quick fact: Pumpkin seeds have more iron in them per pound than most meat!)

Cook your pumpkin at 375* for about 45 minutes or until you put a fork through the skin easily.

Allow your pumpkin to cool. This is also an unnecessary step. You can use a hot pad and flip the sucker as soon as it comes out of the oven... the step just helps you avoid burns. ;)

Once cool enough to handle, flip over, and scoop out the seeds and discard.

After that, it is SUPER simple to remove the meat from the pumpkin shell and place it in a plastic freezer bag. Well done pumpkin flesh separates very easily from the rind!

I like to measure mine out for my favorite recipes. Then all I have to do is pull, thaw, and cook!

A quick tip... if you do freeze your pumpkin this way, lay it flat until completely frozen. Then when you turn it up, you will have lots of room in your freezer for other seasonal goodies.... like pie!

Just for some fun and pumpkin educational reading, here is a article I found about the varieties of eatable pumpkins.


Recipes that I use this pumpkin meat for:

Pie from Pumpkin recipe

Pumpkin custard

Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate chips (makes the best pumpkin muffins ever!)



Jenny said...

Looks like {once again!} we ended up sharing the same kind of week-end. I'm a first time pumpkin puree maker and I wish I knew about keeping the pulp inside. Now I'll know for next time. Hope you are doing well & share the recipes you use for the puree!

Christie describeHappy said...

I can't seem to get enough pumpkin this year! Great advice on extending the season!

CRUMBS said...

How much of this do you use in your pumpkin pie recipes? Do you use a different recipe than what is on the Libby's can?
Would you mind emailing the recipe?

Sorry, so many questions, but after reading this post I went out and got 3 of my own pie pumpkins. I was thoroughly inspired!

Val in the Rose Garden said...

Hey there CRUMBS. :) I'll email you this as well, but here is our pie from pumpkin recipe. Have a fantastic day!



Val in the Rose Garden said...

The link would help:

ExpatChef said...

Thank you for the link!

Unknown said...

wow looking delicious. I must make it tonight. Thanks for the recipe...
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