Friday, October 26th, 2012...11:13 am

How to get your pumpkin ready for pie and seeds

Pumpkin by UmmAbdrahmaan..

The easiest way to make pumpkin ready to make the pie is to cut it horizontally through the middle to get two “halves.” Try to cut so those are real halves to cook evenly.  I scoop out all the seeds and save them. I then take a grapefruit serrated  spoon and scrape out as much of the strings that are in the pumpkin cavities. You don’t want those strings. Then I take the largest jelly roll type tin* I have- you need sides on the tin- and put the cut edges of the pumpkin cut side down on the sheet- the skin side and stem are facing upward. (see here)  Some people put a little grease on the bottom of the sheet and put a little water in the bottom of the sheet. Those who do this say it keeps the pumpkin moist. You can do this if you want.   TheGardenLady doesn’t bother doing these two things because I find that the pumpkin sends out so much water that it is unnecessary. I find that I may have to take a turkey baster to remove a lot of the liquid given off in the baking of the pumpkin so that it doesn’t overflow the pan and dirty the oven. Then I put the oven temperature up to about 450 degrees Farenheit (230 degrees Celsius). I check on the pumpkin in about 45 minutes- depending on the size will determine how long it remains in the oven. I leave it baking until it is soft. When you press on the skin it will feel soft or sort of cave into itself. Some say a fork will pierce the skin.

Take it out of the oven and let it cool. Or you can shut the oven off and let it cool down that way. Scoop the flesh out of the skin with a big spoon, removing any strings you can see to pull off. Put it into your cuisinart type of machine and blend the pulp till it is a mush. The machine will cut any remaining stringy stuff. Some of the pumpkins are more watery than others. The water seems to seep up to the top of the mush. I try to scoop off and may compost the water- though if you have enough, use that water for a vegetable soup or stew. This water is from the pumpkin and has nutrients.  Each time you take the pot of pumpkin mush out of the fridge, spoon off the water if more has accumulated.

Then use the pulp as you would from any can of pumpkin that you buy in the store.

My favorite pie recipe is from the Libby can. I think that recipe is a classic.  I like pumpkin in muffins and breads, too. So I freeze the leftover pumpkin in freezer bags. Since the Libby’s recipe calls for about 2 cups of pumpkin, I fill the bags with two cups of the pureed pumpkin that I have left so that I won’t have to defrost a lot at one time and have enough to make one pie at a time. I let it defrost either in the refrigerator or out on the counter and it is easy to remove from the bags. Pumpkin is also great as a vegetable, for example, the puree can be used alone as a vegetable or in a stew or soup.

Remember I told you to save your pumpkin seeds if you wanted?  You now have to wash all the strings off the seeds- many seeds hang from those strings and you will have to pull the seeds off. This is easiest done as soon as you cut open your pumpkin before the pulp and strings have a chance to dry. I do it as soon as I put the pumpkin in the oven to bake. Wash and then dry the seeds on a tea towel.  You can save some seeds washed and then dried in the air for next year, store them in an envelope marked with what they are and then date them.  Try planting them in your garden next year. Or you can roast the seeds to eat as a snack or to add to cooking.

To about 1 1/2 cups of the washed seeds add about 2 teaspoons oil, like olive or canola or butter, some salt and/or spices of your choosing like garlic salt, crushed red and black pepper.Then put the seeds in one layer on a jelly roll tin and put into a 350 degrees preheated oven  Bake for about 15 minutes or until crispy and brown. You can turn them over to be sure they are dry and crisp on both sides.

Do you have a favorite pumpkin recipe that you would share with TheGardenLady readers?

* Note: A cookie tin may not have sides; a jelly roll tin has low sides.

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