Monday, October 22, 2007

From Pumpkin to Pie, or Bread, or Cake ...


I watched a pie contest where the woman who won out over a ton of very creative pies only entered a basic pumpkin pie. Her secret? Fresh pumpkin from her garden.

It's not that difficult to make your own pumpkin puree. First, get a large pumpkin. Not the jack-o-lantern kind. Or get a few small sugar (pie) pumpkins.

I used a "Cinderella" variety. It is large, flattened and a beautiful deep red-orange. The flesh is thick and has a high water content. So, the pumpkin is heavy for it's size. This one weighed in at 16 pounds. Other heirloom varieties that are supposed to be good for puree are Musquee de Provence (Fairytale), Long Island Cheese and Hubbard Squash.

Roughly, you can figure on about 6-8 cups of puree for a 16 pounder, 4 cups for an 8-pounder, etc. The first step is to be sure you wash the pumpkin.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Now, cut pumpkin in half and remove seeds and pulpy part. You don't have to peel it! Spray a baking pan with cooking spray and spray the cut sides of the pumpkin as well. Place pumpkin, cut side down, in pan. Bake until the flesh is soft, about ninety minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Be sure you do not leave the cooked pumpkin out for more than two hours. Got to remember that food safety!

After it has cooled, scoop the flesh from the skin and blend flesh in a food processor. Now, fresh pumpkin is going to be much more watery than the canned kind. So, you will need to line a strainer with cheese cloth and place the puree on top of this. I make a little bundle to help "press" out the liquid. Set the puree and strainer both into a larger and deeper bowl. Cover with wrap and place in the fridge overnight to drain.



I saw an article on how to "save" your jack-o-lantern and make puree with it after Halloween. This is not a good idea.

Think about it. How often do you take produce out of your fridge, cut it open, set it on the front porch for a week, share a bit with the neighborhood squirrels, burn a candle in it, then take it in to cook?

The cut flesh that gets exposed to air collects a fair bit of bacteria while you are handing out all that candy. Additionally, this is not the best tasting pumpkin since it is cultivated for size and carving, not eating. Especially after it's been outside for a bit. Compost that sucker.

9 comments:

Kalyn said...

Very interesting!

frugalmom said...

yep...gonna do this. Next yr I am gonna try my hand at growing some of my own cooking pumpkins.

Miranda said...

I don't know if this is against your philosophy, but you can also microwave pumpkin. For my Thanksgiving pumpkin chiffon pie I buy a quarter of a large pumpkin (that's how they're sold here) and microwave it as is for 15 minutes. Then I just scoop out the flesh with a big spoon, mash it up with a potato masher and I'm ready to make pie.

The Expatriate Chef said...

Good tip. I default to roasting for the flavor, but for a smaller quantity, your advice is great. Thanks!

Alanna said...

Not all pumpkins are watery - some don't need to be drained at all, there's just nothing to be drained. Others exude more liquid than flesh remains and frankly, at least in my experience, what's left has no flavor and a can of pumpkin puree is the better choice. You can also roast pumpkins whole, at 350F, so don't need to risk your fingers, cutting!

Homemaker05 said...

My mother in law was asking me if I knew anything to do with the "juice"... any ideas?

Thanks!

short shoestring 517 said...

Use the water for soup stock. I keep a container in my freezer for leftover water from cooking any veggies. When I'm ready to make soup, the stock is there, accumulated over time. If you are baking muffins, use it as the liquid.

Jimmy said...

We use our halloween pumpkins, but don't carve them until late afternoon on the 31st. By morning they are in the oven. Often we just use markers to decorate them, not carving them at all. I've been making my own pumpkin puree for at least 25 years now, everyone loves the difference over canned pumpkin!

Robin said...

We use our halloween pumpkins, but don't carve them until late afternoon on the 31st. By morning they are in the oven. Often we just use markers to decorate them, not carving them at all. I've been making my own pumpkin puree for at least 25 years now, everyone loves the difference over canned pumpkin!