|Annalise choosing her Pumpkin|
|Caleb choosing his Pumpkin with Brett in the background|
Once all of the pumpkins are purchased we head back home to clean and carve them for Halloween. I usually purchase a couple extra for myself and set them aside to process and turn them in to quick breads, desserts, waffles, pancakes, smoothies, pasta, etc.,. The possibilities are endless what you can do with Pumpkins, they aren't just for decorations.
I had two large Pumpkins sitting in my basement since October, my basement is mostly finished but I have an area that we left that isn't, this is where I keep my root vegetables, pantry staples, along with herbs and another refrigerator freezer. I like having this area because I enjoy processing my own foods, not all but a good deal, and I like to stock up as well and have whatever I need readily available to me. This cuts down on the need to go into town for small shopping trips.
Admittedly processing Pumpkins is a bit time consuming to do, so pick a nice quiet day where you won't be rushing around, I like Sundays best myself. And now on with how to Process your Pumpkins.
**Preheat your oven to 375-Degrees Fahrenheit**
What you will need:
1-Large Sugar Pumpkin. I have used the regular Pumpkin without incident.
1-large baking sheet lined with Aluminum Foil, it's less mess doing it this way
1-large bowl for pulp and seeds
1-large bowl for the cooked pumpkin
1/2-Cup of Vegetable Oil
1-Clean Cotton or Kitchen Towel
Several sterilized Canning Jars or Storage Containers
Hard work surface like a kitchen or dinning room table works best
1-Colander *Only if roasting the seeds*
1-Emulsion or regular food blender, either one is fine. If you don't have either of those a Potato Masher will do.
Spread the newspapers across your table.
Place the bowl on the table.
Place the Pumpkin on the newpapers
Wash the outer skin of the pumpkin with a dampened paper towel or cloth then dry with another paper towel or dish towel.
**I have two large Pumpkins to process but doing one at time.**
Using a sharp knife, cut a circle all around the stem, be careful doing this. Make sure the circle is wide enough to get your hand inside.
Remove the stem and set aside on the newspapers.
Using the large spoon and or your hand, scrape out and remove the stringy pulp and seeds that are inside, put them in the bowl and set aside. Save the seeds if you want to roast them later on.
Cut the Pumpkin in to quarters (4-Pieces) by using a sharp knife, again be very careful. Remove any
stringy pulp or seeds from the quartered pieces that may be left. Lay the quarters on the foil lined baking sheet, skin side up. Put some of the Vegetable Oil on to the palm of your hands and rub the Pumpkin Skins, make sure to completely cover the skins evenly. You don't have to use all of the oil.
Put the baking tray with the pumpkin quarters in to your oven and bake for about 1-hour or until fork tender. Your oven should had already been preheated at 375-Degrees Fahrenheit. *I was making home made Spaghetti Sauce and Roasting the Pumpkin Seeds at the same time I was processing the Pumpkin. I was cooking for 11-hours straight this Sunday, busy...busy...busy.*
**Note: If you are keeping the seeds to roast, take them to your sink and place them in a colander. Run cool water over the seeds and pulp and separate the two. Discard the stringy pulp. Give the colander a few good shakes to remove the excess water. **Set the colander and seeds aside, I will give the directions on how to roast them on another page.**
Once the hour is up or the Pumpkin quarters are fork tender, remove them from the oven and set aside to cool on a heat resistant surface. Once the Pumpkin is cooled, scoop out the Pumpkin flesh from the skin - shell and place in the large bowl, make sure not to include the skin. If the skin makes its way in to the bowl just take it out and throw it away.
The next step you can either use an Emulsion, regular food blender or potato masher, either one is fine. Blend the Pumpkin until it is pureed with no visible chunks. You want it smooth almost liquefied.
Now put the sterilized funnel inside the mouth - rim of the sterilized canning jar. If you aren't using canning jars, just pour the Pumpkin Puree in to your sterilized storage containers and seal tightly. Don't fill all the way to the top, leave about a 1/2-inch head space from the top leaving room for expansion if you are going to freeze the puree. I will explain that process further down in the instructions. Pour the puree in to the sterilized canning jars to the *Fill-Line* most jars are marked. If not, the same head space applies as it did for the storage containers, a 1/2 inch. Put the seal and the lid tightly on the jar, wipe away any excess puree that may have spilled on the jar with your clean cloth, set aside and repeat, filling the other jars or containers.
**Warning!! This is not Canning - Preserving the pumpkin puree, this is only Cold Processing. Canning - Preserving is a completely different process all together. Once your jars or containers are filled you can either store them in your refrigerator tightly sealed for 1-week until needed or you can keep them in your freezer tightly sealed safely for 3-months. This is the two safest ways to do Pumpkins. Please heed this warning because if you don't, you could become very ill.** You can however use the puree immediately if you want to.
What to do with the Pumpkin Puree you may ask. Quick Breads, Pies, Crumble aka: Crisp, Bread Pudding, Pudding - Custard, Ravioli or Pastas, Smoothies, Pancakes, Waffles, Cinnamon Rolls, the possibilities are near endless. Happy Eating.