Tis the season for pumpkins! In front of every grocery store, there are piles of pumpkins of every shape and size. It cracks me up to see people pulling the largest pumpkin from the pile, hoping that their jack-o-lantern will be the best carved pumpkin on the block.
Personally, I like the little guys. Specifically, sugar pie pumpkins. They are sweet and have less stringy pulp than their regular-sized counterparts. We planted 2 of the plants this spring, but because of our crazy weather, were only able to harvest 2 pumpkins. So, we headed to the island. (Otherwise known as Sauvie Island.) We visited a farm aptly titled "The Pumpkin Patch".
They are NOT known for their watermelons.
I read recently that there is a shortage of pumpkins for the second year in a row. I guess the island didn't get the memo. Their fields are loaded with the bright orange orbs.
If you like orange, it is a lovely sight.
I like orange.
So, other than carving the pumpkins, what do you do? I'm glad you asked! You roast them!
Why? Because after roasting, the fruit can be pureed and put in freezer bags until needed.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Cut a pumpkin in half. It doesn't matter if you cut it from tip to tail, or around the middle. Just be careful.
Using a spoon, scoop out the pulp and seeds. The seeds can be cleaned, soaked in sea salt water overnight, then roasted. They make a nice snack. Our pulp goes to the chickens.
In a broiler pan, large baking dish or a cookie sheet with sides, place the 2 halves, cut side down.
Carefully, poke the skin of the pumpkin several times with a sharp knife. This will allow the steam to escape and help to keep the oven clean. Exploding pumpkin is not a fun clean-up job.
Or, so I've heard.
Pour 1-2 cups of water in the pan before placing it in the oven.
Let bake for 30-60 minutes, depending upon the size. Check it at 30 minutes by poking a knife into the fattest part of the pumpkin. If it is soft, then it's done.
Let it cool for 1/2 hour. With a spoon, gently scoop out the meat of the pumpkin until all that is left is the empty shell of skin.
Place the pumpkin meat into a food processor or blender and puree for about 30 seconds.
Place puree in freezer bags. If you know how much you need for a pie, pre-measuring takes the guess work out later.
Make sure to mark the bag with date and quantity. (I did, after the picture!)
Before you use the pumpkin, line a colander with cheesecloth and place over a larger bowl. The night before you need it, let the pumpkin thaw and drain overnight. Use the "juice" in a soup for added nutrients or discard. Use the puree as you would the canned pumpkin.
My favorite way to enjoy pumpkin is in a homemade Pumpkin Spiced Latte!