What a deliciously beautiful food that most people only enjoy around thanksgiving and of course the occasional pumpkin pie at Christmas. But pumpkins are such a power packed ingredient- low in calories, contain folic acid, antioxidants and carotene- that goes great in just about anything. Believe me when I say anything I mean anything; right babe!!!
During harvest season pumpkins can be purchased for next to nothing, especially for a cooking pumpkin. "Whats a cooking pumpkin you ask??" Well they are the smaller pumpkins that you usually see laying around the grocery store. Some times they are even labeled pie pumpkins. Its best to cook with these because there isn't a large amount of stringing pumpkin goop and there's not an abundance of seeds.
These two pumpkins where picked up at a local apple orchard during a sale they were having buy one pumpkin get one free. So I paid a whole $2.00 for these two guys. After I washed them I used my strongest sharpest knife to cut them in half. and using a spoon I scooped out all the seeds and goop from the center.
If you would like to cook the seeds you can place them into a collendar and clean the goop off this way.
Placed the pumpkins face down on a cookie sheet that has some water in it. Then stick them in the oven and bake on a low temperature (180-200) for 2-3 hours or until you can easily put a knife in it.
Pumpkin seeds are highly nutritious and a good source of essential fatty acids (omega 3), unsaturated fat, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and potassium. They can be cooked at the same time as the pumpkins.
I usually coat them in oil and salt. You can add any kind of flavor (herbs, spices or even pop- corn seasoning) that you would enjoy. Another yummy treat is to cook them with a little margarine, brown sugar and cinnamon.
Now what do you do when the pumpkin is cooked??
Once the pumpkin has cooled off a bit I scoop out the soft flesh and place it into my blender and hit puree. Sometimes I have to add a little bit of water to make it a smooth consistency. I continue doing this until I have pureed all the flesh. Now for the fun part. Since I use pumpkin in LOTS of different recipes I like to freeze my puree into portions. When I have lots of one thing to freeze I find that it takes up less space when I use plastic baggies. Although this can be very messy when you are trying to get a liquid into those baggies. They never seem to want to stand up for you; I usually have more all over the counter then I have in the bag...so here is my new invention for freezing things
OK so its just an old coffee can! But it sure does the trick. I simply just place the baggie inside the can making sure that the top of it is around the can and pour in my puree. This has made freezing much easier and a whole lot cleaner. Now back to the pumpkin. I froze the pumpkin in 2/3, 1/2, and 1 cup measurements. I labeled them for certain recipes like 2/3 for pumpkin waffles, 1/2 for pumpkin dip and 1 cup for cookies. Also I froze some pumpkin puree by 1 Tbsp in an ice cube tray; when frozen I will put them into a baggie and label pumpkin latte's.
So you see it isn't that much trouble to puree your own pumpkins so that you can enjoy this delicious flavor year round. There are many recipes you can find that have pumpkin in them. Just recently we had black bean and pumpkin chili (it also had turkey in it) that was very delicious. If you are a pumpkin lover it does save big bucks pureeing it yourself. A can of pumpkin at the store (~2 cups in a can) is well over $3; I bought both of these pumpkins for less then that and you can get 5-6 cups from 1 pumpkin.