Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pumpkin Cooking

This year we didn't get pumpkins for Halloween. It just didn't happen, and the kids were ok with it.

The day after Halloween, however, I drove past a deserted pumpkin patch with a couple hundred orphaned pumpkins ready for the dumpster. I was lucky enough to snag a few still in great condition. And one tiny one for my youngest (who wasn't too cutely enamored with his baby pumpkin .. he wanted to cut it open immediately). All for free.

But does one do with pumpkins after Halloween?

Today I scooped out the insides, saving the seeds, and got to cooking them so I could puree the meat and freeze it.

I'd read online that the microwave was the way to go. I cooked half of the first pumpkin for 15 minutes and it came out as uncooked and tough as it was when it went in. I then put a cup full of water in the microwave with the pumpkin to steam it and keep it moist and cooked it some more. That seemed to help a bit. I kept going cooking the pumpkins in batches. Two pumpkins took forever, probably a good two hours, and still weren't soft. I eventually managed to cook them enough to cut off the outer skin.

I then turned on the oven, put the pumpkin pieces on a sheet pan, and baked for about 40 minutes. I did this in batches and it worked very well.

After I decided the pumpkin was finally soft enough (the oven worked so much better) the pieces went into a huge mixing bowl so I could beat them with a mixer, which sent pumpkin bits all over the kitchen. But it got the pumpkin mixed enough to put in the food processor, which finished the pureeing.

The pumpkin was then moved into ziploc containers and labeled, then set in the freezer after cooking.

Two too-large pumpkins yielded 24 cups of pureed meat.

The last pumpkin was cut open and only used for seeds. I'd had enough pumpkin cooking for one day.

Next time the pumpkins will be cut in half, cleaned out, and cooked in the oven, probably with a little water in the pan or inside the pumpkin. And I will look for slightly smaller pumpkins.

The good, from Self Nutrition Data: This food is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.
If you've ever tasted pumpkin from (pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling) you may have found that it isn't very good on it's own. Fresh, cooked pumpkin is so much better.

Pumpkin can be used in muffins, pancakes, breads, pies, as baby food, desserts, pumpkin butter, and a whole lot more and they should be available in stores for another month or so if you wish to cook your own.
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