I know I promised you more Thanksgiving ideas today and I have some. But I just realized that this weekend is coming upon your last chance to buy pumpkins. It’s crazy to me because when stored properly pumpkins will keep all winter, yet the stores seem to think that Halloweeen is the only time people want them.
The local pumpkin patch told me all the leftover pumpkins will be tilled under on Tuesday. Hello! Pumpkin pie, bread, doughnuts, pancakes, cookies, muffins…..These dot our winter menus especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas. And then I thought, I wonder how many people know how easy it is to make homemade pumpkin puree to us in all these fantastic recipes. It freezes really well too for year long stockpiling.
Any pumpkins will work, but the tiny ones have the sweetest most pumpkiny flavor.
First, Cut the stem out just like you were going to carve it. Then cut the whole thing in half. It’s much less messy to get the seeds out this way.
Then use a medium sized spoon to clean out the seeds. I take some time to separate the seeds from the pulp (as much as possible) with my fingers and put them in a colander to rinse. Then I toss them with a little oil and salt and roast. I use the instructions here.
If you are using the pumpkins to stuff with meat and veggies as a stew holder, leave them in half and just place in the crock pot with a little water in the bottom to help steam them. If your are going to puree them, cut them in fourths or eighths before cooking. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, check for donness by piercing with a fork. It should be very tender.
For faster cooking, you can bake them in the oven in a covered roasting pan at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Or you can boil the pieces for 25 minutes.
Let the pumpkin cool just enough to be easy to handle. If you have an electric food mill (like with your kitchen aid mixer), you can put the pumkin through skin and all and beautiful puree will come out to use immediately or to bag in recipe size portions and freeze.
If you don’t have a food mill, remove the skin with a knife or spoon and put the pumpkin in your blender. Process until a smooth puree forms (not more than 2 minutes at a time without letting your blender rest.)
Homemade pumpkin puree is lighter in color than commercially produced puree, but it works just as well in recipes. If you feel your puree is too thin, you can put it in a fine wire strainer over a bowl and let some of the moisture drain out. If it is too thick for your taste, you can add small amounts of water until the consistency is right.