Sunday, September 30, 2012

It's All About the Pumpkin!

One more day and we begin the month of Halloween! I love when Holidays are at the end of the month because then you spend all month enjoying them. In fact, I try not to think about Holidays too much before their designated month. I hate it when stores bring out their Christmas stock in September. I don't mind planning for things in advance, but I hate taking away from one holiday because all I am thinking about is the next one. I mean Thanksgiving Day gets completely swallowed up if I start thinking about Christmas before it's proper time. I want to enjoy each holiday as much as I can. Holidays are one of the few times I allow myself to really just live in the moment and not worry about what comes next.

That being said...Since it is not October yet, this post isn't really about Halloween...it is about pumpkins, and Fall, and things to do in Fall with a pumpkin.

If your vegetable garden includes pumpkins you probably know there is more you can do with a pumpkin than rip out it's guts and chase your family members around with gooey fingers....ahh good times! Therefore, Stepford Sisters will be doing a series on pumpkin in Oct. That will be full of creative ideas for the use of your pumpkins. Lots of these ideas will come in the form of recipes because my favorite thing to do with a pumpkin is eat it.

So to start off the series here are some instructions for making your very own pureed pumpkin!

You can use the pumpkin puree in any recipe that calls for canned puree. As a general rule, 3 pounds of fresh pumpkin will yield about 3 cups of mashed and cooked pumpkin.

Bake:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Rinse the pumpkin under cool water to rid the skin of any residual dirt and dry well with a clean towel.
3. Cut the pumpkin in half. Remove the seeds and stringy fibers with a metal spoon or ice cream scoop. Save the seeds for toasting, if you like, and discard the innards.
4. Rub the cut surfaces with oil. Place them, cut side down, in a roasting pan and add 1 cup of water to the pan.
5. Bake in the oven until the flesh is tender when pierced with a knife. This takes approximately 90 minutes.
6. When tender, remove the pumpkin halves from the oven and place on a flat surface to cool.
7. Once cool enough to handle, but not cold, scoop out the pumpkin flesh.
8. Puree the pumpkin in a food processor, in a food mill, with a hand held blender or by hand.
9. Pumpkin flesh holds a lot of moisture. Line a sieve or fine mesh colander with paper towel or a coffee filter and set over a deep bowl. Let drain for about 2 hours and stir occasionally.

Boil:
1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
2. In the meantime, rinse the pumpkin under cool water to rid the skin of any residual dirt and dry well with a clean towel.
3. Cut the pumpkin in half. Remove the seeds and stringy fibers with a metal spoon or ice cream scoop. Save the seeds for toasting, if you like, and discard the innards.
4. Cut the pumpkin into evenly-sized smaller pieces and peel.
5. Add to the boiling water and cook for about 25 minutes or until the flesh is tender when pierced with a knife.
6. Puree the pumpkin in a food processor, in a food mill, with a hand held blender or by hand.

Steam:
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil that will hold a vegetable steamer or colander.
2. In the meantime, rinse the pumpkin under cool water to rid the skin of any residual dirt and dry well with a clean towel.
3. Cut the pumpkin in half. Remove the seeds and stringy fibers with a metal spoon or ice cream scoop. Save the seeds for toasting, if you like, and discard the innards.
4. Cut the pumpkin into evenly sized smaller pieces and peel.
5. Place the pumpkin pieces in a steamer or metal colander and over the boiling water. Cover and let steam for about 50 minutes or until the flesh is tender when pierced with a knife.
6. Puree the pumpkin in a food processor, in a food mill, with a hand held blender or by hand.

To Freeze:
Once the puree has cooled entirely, place in freezer containers or ice cube trays. Leave room at the top (headspace) of the containers or individual ice cube compartments. Label, date and freeze the puree for future use.

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