I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like at least one pumpkin-flavored treat during the fall season.
However, some people (myself included) try to make everything taste like pumpkin for as many months as possible. In fact, I think pumpkin is delicious right out of the can. But last fall I took my love of pumpkins even further — if that was possible — and started processing them fresh. It was so much more delicious than pumpkin from a can that I will never go back.
When picking your pumpkin, make sure it’s ripe. A pumpkin is ripe when it sounds hollow, the stem is hard, and the skin is not easily punctured by pressure from a fingernail. When harvesting it use a sharp knife so the cut isn’t jagged, and leave a long stem to prevent rot. Store it out of the sunlight.
Processing pumpkins can be quite a job as they are not easy to cut, so make sure you have a strong, sharp, clean knife.
First, wash your pumpkin; this is easier done outside if you have a big pumpkin. I like to wash all my fruits and vegetables with warm water and lemon juice. The lemon juice cuts through grime and kills bacteria. Once your pumpkin is clean, the next step is cutting the top open and digging out the insides. Simply cut a large circle around the stem, about two inches from the stem all the way around. Dig out the insides with a large spoon; I usually put them into a large bowl so that I can use the seeds.
Pumpkin seeds are very high in nutrition and flavor. They are full of healthy fats, fiber and protein, not to mention their high magnesium and iron content. After picking the seeds out of the pumpkin slime (a tedious job but worth the time taken) I usually lightly coat them with olive oil by stirring them in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Then, place them onto a baking sheet, sprinkle salt onto them, and bake at 300 degrees for about 45 minutes or until they are toasty brown. You can either eat them with the shell on, or take the shell off.
Now for the pumpkin flesh. Since your pumpkin is now all cleaned out and you have some delicious pumpkin seeds to snack on, it is time to start cutting it up. The method of cutting will surely depend on the quality of your knife and how strong you are. In theory, I would imagine one could cut the pumpkin the way you cut a watermelon, nice and even. But when I try to cut it the pumpkin is so hard and strong that it takes all I’ve got to carve hand-sized pieces out of it. Once it’s in pieces I take a break for the sake of my sore arm before cutting each piece into cubes. While taking a break, it’s always good to enjoy your sense of satisfaction and anticipation of delicious treats to come by sipping a glass of iced pumpkin coffee.
A couple hours later (for me anyway) after cubing all the pumpkin on a cutting board, the fun begins. I fill freezer bags with the pumpkin cubes and put half in the fridge and half in the freezer. The cubes of pumpkin can be boiled in either water or whole milk to soften them depending on what you are planning to make with your pumpkin puree. After all this work, it’s time for a great meal.
Creamy pumpkin soup recipe:
Fill a saucepan a couple inches from the top with cubes of pumpkin, then add whole milk just to the top of the pumpkin. Boil until soft. Let it cool a bit (I put mine in the freezer for a few minutes) then puree in a blender. This way you don’t have to take the skin off as it is pureed into unnoticeable bits. Add salt to taste and enjoy your delicious soup!
After feeling satisfied and full from this unique soup (which goes great paired with a green salad by the way) your sweet tooth will kick in …
Fresh pumpkin pie recipe (made from fresh pumpkin):
Just as we did for the soup, fill a saucepan a couple inches from the top with cubes of pumpkin, and then add whole milk just to the top of the pumpkin. Boil until soft. Let it cool a while, and then puree in a blender. After that, follow these steps:
- Scoop 3 cups of your whole milk pumpkin puree into a bowl.
- Whisk 2 large eggs into it.
- Mix in ¾ cup sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, ½ tsp of salt, ½ tsp ginger, and ¼ tsp cloves.
- Pour into one unbaked deep dish pie shell, or two regular pie shells.
- Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Pumpkins are one of the most wonderful foods God created. They’re also very versatile. Three cheers for the great pumpkin!
What are your favorite pumpkin recipes? Leave your reply in the section below: