It is time.
It is fall. The weather started to turn chilly (actually darn tootin cold for a couple weeks) although it seems to have changed its mind this week. My porch is covered in sycamore leaves that don't seem to have come from my trees. And Halloween has come and gone.
So I can finally bake my pumpkins. I love baking with pumpkin. It might the orange color as much as the flavor.
My cousins have a pumpkin patch we go to every year. If you have never been to one, go. Especially if you have children. Picking out your own jack'o'lantern pumpkin is an experience that cannot be duplicated in the grocery store.
Last year was a bad year for the pumpkins. Apparently the crop was thin and that is why we are having trouble finding canned pumpkin in the grocery store. Or so I'm told. I haven't looked for canned pumpkin in years. So this would be the perfect year to try making your own pumpkin puree. It is super easy, and in my opinion, tastes better.
If you are looking for pumpkins to eat, then you are looking for different pumpkins than what you would use to carve. Look for the pumpkins that are the size of a basketball or smaller. These are much sweeter and have a better flavor than the larger pumpkins. That and they will fit into your oven.
Take the stem off.
Cut the pumpkin in half.
And scoop out the seeds and strings.
There are a couple things you can do with pumpkin detritus. Many people love pumpkin seeds as a snack. I'm not sure why, but I have never really cared for it. I like to bury the seeds. Do you know what happens if you bury this many pumpkin seeds? You end of with this many pumpkin plants. That take over your yard. And your deck. And your house. Seriously, bury them AWAY from the house.
Place the halves onto a large baking dish. Add a glassful of water to the bottom of the pan.
Sprinkle a couple teaspoons of cinnamon into the water. This will not give the pumpkin any flavor to speak of, but will make your house smell divine.Bake at 350 for about an hour. At about 30 minutes, check to see if a knife can easily be stuck through the skin. When that happens, turn off the oven and remove the pan. It is going to be really hot for quite awhile, so just let it sit on the counter. When it is cool enough to handle, scoop out the good stuff, leaving the skin behind.
Put this into a blender and puree. Where this picture is, I really don't know. Add two cups of the puree to a good quality freezer bag. Flatten it out and remove as much as the air as you can. Stack these bags on top of one another in the freezer. This is the best way I have found to freeze pumpkin. Space-wise, it can't be beat. Be sure to label your bag with the date. You know, in case it falls down into the depths of your freezer.
I have used pumpkin prepared and frozen this way up to a year later and not noticed it being any different than just-pureed. While the procedure is fairly time consuming, it really isn't difficult...it's a great Saturday afternoon project.
If you enjoy pumpkin, I highly recommend trying this at least once. I can just about guarantee you will never use canned pumpkin again.
Click here for Printable Recipe
1 Pie Pumpkin
1 Cup Water
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the insides. Place each half face down onto a large baking pan. Add water. Bake at 350 for about an hour. Scoop the flesh of the pumpkin out of the skin. Puree in a blender. Add two cups to a good quality freezer bag. Label and freeze for up to 1 year.