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Thursday, October 18, 2012

How to Bake a Pumpkin (it's easier than you may think)

I have something to confess.  Until this week I've never ever "made" a pumpkin before.  Until now pumpkins were strictly for decoration and if I needed pumpkin for a recipe I'd just get a can from Trader Joe's.  Am I the only one?

Well, after receiving 3 lovely baking pumpkins from our CSA box last week I decided it was time to figure out how to make pumpkin from scratch.  Instead of my usual google search I decided to ring up my mom.  She just happened to contribute to a cookbook back in the 70's on this very subject!  She gave me the following directions that worked quite well.  All in all it was a much easier process than I'd expected and I ended up with something extra that you cannot get from a can. Pumpkin seeds!

Flipped over after they finished baking.  

Pumpkin Baking 101

Wash pumpkin(s).  Cut in half (across the middle not top to bottom).  Scoop out and save seeds.  Place in a large shallow baking pan.  I recommend putting some parchment paper on the bottom first as it makes clean up easier.  Bake uncovered at 350 until flesh is very tender (about 1 hour).  Cool for a few minutes then scoop out the flesh.

Puree the pumpkin in a blender or food processor.  Add a little water if it is too thick to blend.  Measure out and put 1 cup servings in individual plastic bags.  Freeze and you're all set for recipes!

I set some of the puree aside for my baby who LOVED it with a little cinnamon and yogurt (plain) added.

Lovely pureed pumpkin!

Other ways to cook Pumpkin

If the oven isn't for you here are two other ways to cook pumpkin.

Microwave - Pierce the pumpkin with a knife or fork several time.  Cook on high for 6 minutes or until tender.  Cut in half and scoop our the flesh. (note: this part was not included in the original 70's cookbook as there were no microwaves back then, ha!).

Stove  - Cut the pumpkin into 3-4 inch chunks.   Don't peel off the skin as it will fall off on it's own. Add a little bit of water and bring to a simmer.  Simmer until tender about 50-60 min.

So there you go, three different ways to cook up a pumpkin.  Looks easy right?  I'll be back with some recipes to use all of the lovely pumpkin puree soon.

The pumpkin seeds from just 2 of those medium pumpkins!
Pumpkin Seeds
But wait, we can't forget the pumpkin seeds!  They are easy to make, especially if you are baking the pumpkin.  Just separate from the pulpy strings, rinse a little (be careful, they're slippery little buggers) and place on a baking sheet.  I prefer to use parchment paper on the sheet to minimize clean up.  Spray with some olive oil and sprinkle sea salt on.  Bake for about 45 minutes in the same oven as the pumpkin (350 degrees).  Remove from the oven and let cool a little bit.  Try to resist eating them all at once! 

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