October 1, 2011

Processing Pumpkins 101

This morning I asked Jordan if she would come down to the garden and help me cut the pumpkins. A big smile came to her face and she said "Mmmm, pumpkin pie." Yep, it's fall.

Like everything else, except the rhubarb, we have a meager pumpkin crop this year - 6 total. All sugar pumpkins of course. We buy a couple of the gigantic jack-o-lantern pumpkins from the farmer's market to carve up for Halloween. I just can't bare to ruin perfectly good pumpkins we raise ourselves. Jordan and I gathered up what we have and brought them upstairs for processing.

For those who are unfamiliar with processing your own pumpkins and who would like to give it a try, here are the steps. Be warned that it takes the better part of an afternoon to do this, but home processed pumpkins are so far superior to store-bought-in-a-can it makes the effort and time completely worth it.

1. Wash 2-3 sugar pumpkins, however many will fit into a 9 x 13 glass baking dish.
2. Cut the stem down to 1/2 - 1 inch and pierce each squash in two places to let heat/steam escape from the middle while it cooks.
3. Place pumpkins in the baking dish and add about 2-3 cups water.
4. Place in 350 F oven, with the rack on the lowest level, and bake 1-2 hours.
5. When you can easily insert the knife and the skin is looking loose, they are finished - remove from oven and let cool. Cooling can take 30 plus minutes.
6. Once the squash is cool enough to work with, cut each in half.
7. Working with one halve at a time: scoop out the seeds and stringing innereds with spoon and discard (or save the seeds for roasting).
8. Slice each half into 2-inch-wide pieces.
9. With a paring knife, peel the rough skin off and discard.
10. Two options - one slice and pack into freezer containers OR
11. Slice, then puree and pack into freezer containers. If you don't puree now, you may have to puree later if you are using the pumpkins for pie or soup. Personally, I like option 1 and only puree what I have to later.
12. Label each container and freeze until ready to use. It will keep for about 6 months.

I make muffins, pies, soups, etc. with the processed pumpkins. You can use the same steps for butternut squash, acorn squash - any winter squash except spaghetti which is just too stringing. The other plus to processing your own pumpkins is that the whole house will smell delicious.


Robin said...

Your pumpkins look really nice. You did better then me this year. My pumpkin crop was pathetic!

Mindy said...

Thanks. Last year we had two pumpkins, so I'm thrilled with 6 this year. Of course, 3 years ago we have a couple dozen.