On a cool early fall morning I wake up to my wife handing me a cup of coffee. She looks at me with sheer excitement and says, “Are we finally going to pick today?” “Let’s go and see” I reply. We take a stroll over to the garden and sure- enough, it’s time to pick pumpkins!
Last Thanksgiving my wife bought some local, organic, heirloom pumpkins. Prized for their decorative appeal many have been buying them only to watch them de-compose by the front door. We decided to process the pumpkin and save the seeds to plant them this year. Now it’s time to hitch the wagon to the tractor, load it up with pumpkins and decorate around the house. These pumpkins however are not going to sit and rot. Once they have served their decorative purpose they will be processed, frozen and made into pies, cakes, bread, soup, lasagna, the list goes on and on. Most recipes with pumpkin base the measurements in cups. I thought it would be more helpful to explain how to process fresh pumpkin so that it may be used in any recipe rather than canned pumpkin. The process does take a little work however the benefits far outweigh the alternative, both in flavor and nutritional value.
1. Wash pumpkin in cool water before cutting
2. Cut into smaller more manageable pieces, Remove seed and pulp
3. On smooth skin use a vegetable peeler making several passes to remove not only the rind but also the green string just below the skin (For rough skin use a paring knife)
4. Cut pumpkin into one inch cubes and place in a stock pot
5. Cover with cold water and add a pinch of salt
6. Bring to a boil over high heat, Boil until fork tender (about half an hour) drain and allow to cool in a colander
7. Mash. You can use many different things to mash the pumpkin (mixer, food processor or a potato masher) I prefer a potato ricer. Most importantly is a smooth creamy consistency measure in one cup portions and store in freezer bags be sure to write on the package what kind of pumpkin it is.
8. Store your pumpkin in the freezer and enjoy whatever you decide to make for the whole season or even year.
For recipes calling for a fifteen ounce can of pumpkin use two one cup packages minus one heaping tablespoon For questions about this or any other recipe Stop in and see me in the kitchen Chef Courtney R. Haas, The Kitchen at Rohrerstown Stauffers Supermarket.