Good afternoon to my two or three
charitable followers raving fans! I’ve been making pumpkiny things this weekend to share with you and anyone else who happens to find me here.
And as with so many things in life, it all begins with pumpkin puree…
The inspiration for this post comes from a cooking class I took with my mom a couple weekends ago! We went to Gervasi Vineyard in Canton, Ohio to learn how to cook “all things pumpkin.” I learned that pumpkin is amazing because it’s cheap (pie pumpkins are 99 cents/lb.), it’s healthy, and it’s versatile. I shall use this knowledge to validate every #PSL I consume this year. (*Disclaimer – it seems unlikely that pumpkin spice lattes contain any actual pumpkin… In fact, upon further reflection, they are neither cheap, nor healthy, nor versatile. Note to self: Continue to seek other avenues of validation for pricey espresso beverages.)
In any case, one of the highlights of the cooking class was a taste test we did comparing canned “pumpkin” puree (which I learned is not actually made of pumpkin, but rather often a hybrid of various squashes) to the real thing, roasted from an actual factual pumpkin. The real pumpkin was way more flavorful, but it lacked that “tinny” taste that you may have come to enjoy from your canned pumpkin product. If that’s a deal breaker for you, return to your can.
Well, it’s terribly easy to achieve, so here’s some instructions:
Step 1: Obtain a pumpkin (or 2).
Done. You’re right, this is easy. Ok, what next?
Step 2: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and insert the pumpkin! (You should probably put it on a foil-lined baking sheet to make sure it doesn’t leak and get your oven dirty. You may also want to be sure the top of the pumpkin adequately clears the roof of the oven so that nothing catches on fire. Your call.)
Step 3: Leave the pumpkin in the oven.
Step 4: After about an hour, remove the pumpkin! It should be somewhat brown around the top and it might look a little deflated. (But don’t worry – I assure you its morale is still high!) You can try poking it with a wooden spoon or something to make sure it’s gotten a little soft.
Step 5: Let it cool.
Step 6: Peel your pumpkin! If it has cooked long enough, the skin should easily peel away from the “meat” of the pumpkin.
The result is this adorable bald pumpkin:
Step 7: Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds. Then throw the pumpkin in a food processor and puree it until it’s smooth!
Don’t forget to keep the seeds. Seeds are the make or break factor on exactly how worthwhile this process is. In my experience, canned pumpkin virtually NEVER comes with fresh seeds. From what I understand about nature though, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll get some from a real pumpkin. I dare you to disprove that hypothesis.
Another tip from the chef at Gervasi – if you plan to use your pumpkin for a soup or sauce, then it’s ready to use right away. If you plan to bake with it, however, it will contain a lot more moisture than the canned pumpkin that most recipes are based on. For baking purposes, you’ll want to strain some moisture out of your pumpkin first. Just lay a paper towel on top of a fine mesh strainer, then leave the pumpkin to drain through it overnight. It will be considerably thicker the next day, and you’ll be surprised how much water collects! (Or at least I was, but I’m easily impressed.)
There you have it! Pumpkin puree for baking, pumpkin puree for cooking, and pumpkin seeds for roasting. If you’re struggling for ideas to use all this pumpkin, just RELAX! I promise that I did, in fact, do all three of these things with my pumpkin, and I will share those recipes as well when I get around to it.
Now I must go pet my dog and emotionally prepare to watch The Walking Dead. Is Glenn alive??! Will we find out tonight?!