PRESERVING THE PUMPKIN HARVEST
Chances are there's at least one fresh pumpkin decorating your porch or table top. Don’t let that highly nutritious and delicious pumpkin go to waste. With a little preparation you can economically prepare puree for all your favorite pumpkin recipes, and the seeds make a tasty snack. The pumpkin shown in the photographs above yielded 16 cups of pureed pumpkin. All things pumpkin --YUM!
Baking Fresh Pumpkin:
- Cut a pumpkin in half. Cut away the stem and discard. Use a large spoon or scoop to remove the seeds, and set aside. (Seeds are edible and nutritious too. Save for roasting.)
- Place the pumpkin skin-side down in a roasting pan or two. Add a little water to cover the bottom of the pan and cover. Place in a 300°F oven. A large pumpkin will take about 1 hour. Test the center for softness with a knife. When done, the center will slice easily.
- Remove roasting pan from the oven when it’s ready and uncover. Allow it to cool slightly before handling.
- Carefully transfer the pumpkin to a cutting board. Cut the fleshy part away from the hard outside shell. (Feed shell to the chickens.) Chop pumpkin into 2” to 3” inch chunks.
- Process the pumpkin cubes in a food processor until smooth.
Freezing Pumpkin Puree:
You can whip up delicious smoothies, shakes and lattes in your blender and bake yummy casseroles, pies, cakes, and bread, and cook pudding and pancakes often with fresh pumpkin puree in the freezer.
- Once the fresh pumpkin has been cooked and processed in a food processor until smooth, measure quantities for your favorite pumpkin recipes, usually 1 to 2 cup proportions.
- Measure pumpkin into freezer storage bags and seal.
- Label contents, date and quantity and store in the freezer until ready to use.
Defrosting Frozen Pumpkin:
Frozen pumpkin defrosts easily. Remove from the freezer and allow thawing in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature at least one hour in advance. To expedite the thawing process, place the frozen freezer bag in a bowl of water. Use puree in any pumpkin recipe as you would the commercially canned product.
Roasting Pumpkin Seeds:
Hand-rub fresh pumpkin seeds in a bowl of water to clean. Dry the seeds on a towel. Toss dry seeds in a bowl with approx. ½ T. melted butter and salt to taste and a pinch of garlic powder. Place on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350°F. oven for 30 minutes. Turn occasionally. Once the seeds have cooled, store in a Ziploc container.
Also of Interest:
Visit our recipe index page for a variety of delicious pumpkin recipes.
Pumpkin is our favorite autumn flavor for its taste and nutritional benefits. Read Pumpkin, our favorite autumn antioxidant.
About the Author:
Deborah Tukua is the editor of Journey to Natural Living and author of the healthy fresh from the blender recipe book, Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. She is a freelance writer for the Farmers' Almanac and Chiropractic Economics magazine and author of the book, Marketing Strategies for Chiropractic Success.