Hey everyone! Haloween is over, the leaves are all falling, and Thanksgiving is creeping up on us faster than lighting. Who wants to blow family away at this years gathering by bringing a dish completely home made from scratch? Oh, and did I mention that ITS EASY!! (No, really, it totally is. I swear!) Lets be honest, the trip to the pumpkin patch is normally a pretty big chunk of change so why waste it by letting your purchase rot in the front yard?? Put it to good use so the money isn't wasted- you get decorations AND tons of great meals- double win!
Now you've heard the saying "grandma knows best" right? Well, maybe that is true mostly, but not this time. My grandmother told me the best way to put up homemade pumpkin was to slice the pumpkin up like a cantelope, cut off the skins/seed stuff, cube it up, gently boil it until soft, mash it into a puree, then bag and freeze...UHHHHH....sorry grandma but NO, this way stinks. First off, the skins are so tough that I almost cut my thumbnail off my left hand when the knife slipped b/c there were two toddlers running into my legs (yes- very true story- took forever to grow that part of the nail back), and secondly it is very labor intensive! Especially when you have 20,000,000,000 other things that you need to be doing at that same moment. GOOD NEWS! I found a better way that gives you the same puree result that only takes three easy steps and takes less 4 minutes of physical work per pumpkin. Ok, are you ready for this amazingness?!?!
STEP 1: Throw that thing in the oven (small you can keep whole- large cut in 1/2) at 350 until it is soft- time varies by size/amount cooked- just poke it with a fork and if it gives under pressure its done! Sometimes its 20 minutes and sometimes an hour or so. Oh, and if you are like me and tend to get distracted easily you may forget they are in there... its ok! I've accidentally cooked my pumpkin for three hours before I remembered they were in there- oops! Looking back I probably should have set the timer for safety reasons. They were VERY flat and super soft but taste wise they turned out just fine :)
IF YOU WANT TO MAKE ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS GO AHEAD AND GET THE SEEDS OUT BEFORE YOU PUT THE PUMPKIN IN THE OVEN
**Optional- you can add 1/8 cup water to the casserole dish or cookie sheet to speed up the cooking process and steam it at the same time you bake it.
STEP 2: Use a spoon to scrape the good stuff out. Scrape the seeds (bad stuff) out into a bowl if you didn't save them for roasted pumpkin seeds and then you will be left with a shell of delicious home preserved pumpkin! Just keep scraping the pumpkin out until you reach the skin. If you cooked it long enough this part is easier than scooping ice cream.
STEP 3: Stir it up. Stirring it breaks your scoops up into a chunky puree. If you like it like baby food then pop it in a blender, but I like to taste the bits of pumpkin. Its how everyone else knows its really homemade- because canned pumpkin is like baby food and mine is not ;)
It is now ready to use in whatever way you want (pie, bread, pumpkin rolls, soup, etc). About 2 cups of homemade pumpkin is equivalent to 1 (16 oz) can of pumpkin. Any that you have left over just toss in a freezer bag in two cup increments (so its easy to use for recipes that call for a can of pumpkin). Oh, and don't forget to write the year you packaged it on the bag. No one wants a six year old bag of pumpkin to surface in their freezer. I typically use all the freezer food with in a year or two, anything past that goes to the chickens.
Congratulations! You are a pumpkin preserving champion. Now go brag to all those people who buy pumpkin in a tin can about how much more awesome your pumpkin dishes will be than theirs! Yay!!