Photo by Unsplash/Jocelyn Maloney
We grew our first ever pumpkin this year!
It's pretty ridiculous actually. It came from a plant that started as a volunteer, not from the pumpkins I'm actually trying to grow.
Oh well, it's still my little pumpkin.
Not only was I super excited about this little victory, everyone around was, too. My boyfriend's nephew was immediately ready to carve a jack o' lantern, whether it was Halloween or not, and the whole crew was ready for some pumpkin, cinnamon, autumn-flavored goodness.
That's when it hit me: I had never before cooked anything with fresh pumpkin. Sure we've always gardened and shopped at farmers market, but somehow we had always purchased our pumpkin in a can.
So I set out to learn to bake with the good stuff, and it turns out it's pretty easy.
Step one is to scoop out all those pumpkin guts. A perfect job for a kid with jack o' lanterns on the brain. That is as long as you don't mind missing a few extra pieces and some time.
Don't forget to save the seeds! You can roast them or, in my case, I'll be saving them to plant next year.
The next step (which was carried out after the nephew had left for the day) is to slice your pumpkin in half and bake it for 1-2 hours at 350 degrees F, or until tender.
To keep it moist, I laid my pumpkin upside down in a glass oven dish with about an inch of water in it. I checked it periodically with a fork, as cook times may vary a lot depending on the size of the pumpkin.
When it's soft, all you need to do is peel off the skin. If you're having trouble, you can scrape the flesh off with a spoon.
Then it's mashing time! For you off-grid folks, a potato masher or food mill will do just fine. You can also puree it in a blender or food processor if you're electric-appliance inclined.
Homemade Pumpkin Puree
That's it — near as easy as the canned stuff and twice as good.
It lasts quite a while in the fridge. We've used it for pumpkin pancakes, and we'll be trying out a pumpkin cake recipe today.
Now if I can only get the weather to catch up with my pumpkin so that baking the cake won't cook me out of the house! I’ll be happy when true fall arrives. What about you?
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