Thursday, October 18, 2012

How to Bake & Puree Fresh Pumpkin

I save money by trying to bring things into my home that can do double duty. That includes our Halloween pumpkins!



Most people think of live pumpkins as Halloween decorations. I look at them as a decorative food source. Depending upon our mood, I might use the pumpkin unaltered in my Halloween d├ęcor. 


 Photo courtesy of my DIY blog Condo Blues

Generally, the small pumpkins taste a little sweeter and are often sold as Pie Pumpkins. Most people use the small pumpkins to make cookies, pie, bread, pie, cake, pie or if they are wild and crazy pie. Mmmmm pumpkin pie…


Sometimes I’ll paint it or decorate in a way that allows me to bake and puree the pumpkin after Halloween. If we are in a carving mood, we’ll buy one pumpkin for carving and another large pumpkin for eating.



Yes you CAN puree and eat a large pumpkin! Most Americans eat pumpkins in desserts (nothing wrong with that, did I mention yummy pumpkin pies?) but the rest of the world remembers PUMPKIN IS A SQUASH and cook  it as a vegetable (which is really a fruit because pumpkin like all squashes has seeds. Seeds=vegetable. I didn’t know that either until Twitter settled an argument. Follow me @condoblues, pretty please? I might need your help if we have another argument.)

Vegetable or fruit? Pumpkin is a fruit!

I have had success cooking our large pumpkins and cooking them in pumpkin soup and sweet pumpkin curry and other pumpkiny treats. I’ve also had success using fresh pumpkin puree from large pumpkins in cakes, bread, and cookies. I try to use fresh pumpkin puree from small pumpkins in pumpkin pie since pumpkin pie filling doesn’t have the extra binders as in pumpkin cakes pies, and cookies and I like my pumpkin pie on the sweeter side.
 
Tip: If your pumpkin treats are on the bland side, it may be the brand, age, or blend of pumpkin spice you use instead of the fruit itself. I used to fall for the ‘cooking with big pumpkins is bland, only use the little pie pumpkin' thing until I bought a bottle of Trader Joe’s pumpkin spice when I ran out of McCormick. Turns out it was the brand and blend of spices that made the difference to our taste buds not the size of pumpkin.

Let’s bake and puree a fresh pumpkin!

The large pumpkins have a bit more water in them, so I like to let the excess water drain in a pasta strainer after I puree the pumpkin pulp and before I freeze it.

Pumpkin Puree Recipe





You will need:

Pumpkin
A knife
A sturdy spoon
Cookie sheet
Oven
Potato masher or hand mixer

Bake it:

1. Cut the pumpkin open and remove the seeds and strings with the large spoon, your hands, or by any means necessary.

 Husband is a hands on pumpkin gutter.

2. Cut the pumpkin in half if you did not do so in Step 1 and place the pumpkin rind side facing up (pumpkin guts side down) on a cookie sheet.

3. Bake the pumpkin at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

4. Remove the baked pumpkin from the oven and allow it to cool.

5. Scrape the baked pumpkin pulp from the rind with the spoon.

6. Puree the pumpkin pulp with a potato masher or hand mixer.

Your pumpkin puree is ready for cooking and baking now or to freeze for later.
 
I freeze my pumpkin puree in two cup containers because two cups of pumpkin equals one can of pumpkin.

Last year I bought our Halloween pumpkins for $1.99 each. I got 6 cups of pumpkin puree from one pumpkin which means my baked pumpkin puree only cost me $.66 a can (2 cups.)

Baking pureeing, and freezing your Halloween pumpkin is a great way to spread a little pumpkin cheer throughout the year at very little expense to you!
  
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