The Pumpkin Patch
Every fall I get many questions about what to do with pumpkins. Many people find curious fascination in imagining what it would be like to grow these versatile little gems, as if growing something that produces a large fruit is somehow more respectable than growing, say, a Serrano pepper.
Many people eventually venture into pumpkin experimentation. Some succeed and many fail. Much like a dog that chases a car, many people never give thought to what they would do if they actually succeeded in successfully raising a patch of these fall favorites.
Whether you have found yourself with more pumpkins than you know what to do with or you are one of the people who had to buy pumpkins and duct tape them to the vine, these tips for roasting and using pumpkins are sure to help you make the most out of them (no matter how you acquired them)!
How to Roast a Pumpkin
You can only do this with a freshly carved pumpkin! Do not use on a pumpkin that has been carved and sitting out for several days.
To bake a fresh 6- to 7-pound pumpkin, halve the pumpkin crosswise and scoop out the seeds and strings. Place halves, hollow side down, in a large baking pan covered with aluminum foil and add a little water.
Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for one and a half to two hours or until fork-tender. Remove. When cool, scrape pulp from shells and puree, a little at time, in food processor or blender. Mix with a little salt.
To freeze pumpkin puree, put 1 to 2 cups in freezer bags along with spices and use in pies.
To use pumpkin puree for recipes: Line a strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth or a flour sack dishtowel, and let the pumpkin sit to drain out the extra moisture BEFORE cooking with it. Pumpkin is very moist, so in order for your recipe to come out correctly, you MUST strain it.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Boil seeds in water for five minutes. Drain well. Sprinkle with salt or seasoned salt. Place a thin layer on a cookie sheet. Bake at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir after 30 minutes. Bake 30 minutes to one hour more or until crunchy.
Note: Squash seeds may also be used.