Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pumpkin Puree For My Pal

Ah! I love these early days of Autumn!

While today was nearly summerish here in New England - mid-70's and sunny - yesterday was cloudy, misty, cool, and later in the evening when the temperature crept up from the mid-50's to the 60's, a bit foggy. And I loved it! I love that first brisk fall day, when you walk outside, particularly if it's in the evening, and you get goosebumps. Funny thing about goosebumps - whether you get them from being chilly or being spooked, they leave you with the same feeling. Excited, on edge, a little uncomfortable and maybe a little giddy at the same time. You know, like how some people laugh when they're nervous? I love it.

And today I was just a bit spooked. Last night I was awoken a few times but the hooting of an owl. Owls are cool - I actually saw one perched on a tree branch at twilight once - but this time of year, with the chill in the air, scary movies on television and Halloween approaching, I remembered that owls can be a predictor of death.

So, to protect my family, my friends, my pets, I decided that perhaps a pumpkin sacrifice was in order. Besides, Lissaloo was looking for tips on making her own pumpkin puree...

(Insert scary psycho slasher sound effect here)


First, one must acquire one's victims..I mean, pumpkins! I picked up three sugar pumpkins today. These are the ones best suited for eating, in my opinion, although I have chopped up and roasted carving pumpkins. Just not the huge blue-ribbon, need-a-crane-to-lift pumpkins at the county fair. I just don't have the counter space for those.

Start by cutting them in half. I like to start at the top...

...Then carefully press down firmly to slice through the side.
Then the bottom, and by this time the pumpkin gives up and pretty much splits on half.
Next you clean out the entrails, I mean...well, yeah, entrails, but there's no blood. Save those precious seeds! We have plans for them later...Mwah-ha-ha-hahah!
Just reach in and squeeze them out of the stringy stuff and into a bowl for now.

When you've got them pretty much out, scrape the inside of the pumpkin cavity with a spoon - just to get the real tough stringy bits out. Don't work too hard though, because pumpkin flesh is pretty fibrous and stringy anyway.
Next, cut up the pumpkin into manageable pieces - I like them to cook a little quicker, so I cut them into a bout three or four inch chunks. You could actually just place the pumpkin halves, cut side down, on a baking sheet. But you know how I love my knife...

Place them on a baking sheet, and sprinkle a little water over them - maybe like 1/4 cup for this whole sheet. Some people cover in foil to, in effect, steam the pumpkin. But this works too. You could also just boil the pumpkin, but you'll lose a lot of nutrients and flavor in the water.

I guess. I don't know, I just made that up, but it makes sense, don't it? Besides, roasting gives it such nice flavor.

Into a preheated 375 degree oven, for about 30 minutes or until fork tender.

Remove from the oven and let cool until you can handle the pumpkin, then you'll want to remove the flesh from the skin. And as the saying goes, there's more than one way to skin a pumpkin! Scrape the flesh from the skin with a spoon...
Or peel with a vegetable peeler or paring knife.

(Blurry picture - use your imagination here!)

Some pieces you may find that you can peel the skin right off with your fingers. You decide what works best for you when you do yours.

And you should end up with this - this was one and a half pumpkins. I kept one half raw to use in a different recipe, and I made the third one watch the carnage. Mwah-ha-ha-haha!

Next, cut any big pieces into smaller chunks and toss into a food processor. Since we roasted, these pieced are a bit dried out, so we need to add some water - just enough to make the pumpkin into puree. I used 1/4 cup per batch, and this yielded three processing batches.

Puree for twenty seconds or so, scraping down the sides and/or adding more water if necessary, until you've reached the desired consistency.
And Bob's your uncle....
Pumpkin Puree!

Now, do I think there's anything wrong with the canned stuff?

Not really. I've used it many a time. But I think I do prefer the fresh kind. I just like the flavor better.

This freezes beautifully - in plastic zipper bags or if you have one, a Seal-A-Meal or Foodsaver kind of thing.

But I didn't do that today...I have big plans for my pumpkin puree!



Tattoos and Teething Rings said...

That looks a lot easier than I've always imagined preparing pumpkin to be, I'll have to attempt makingmy own puree at least once this season! Thanks!

Holly said...

Just "met" you over at Willoughby's and wanted to come take a look. I have made my own puree one time and it is so good. Your pictures are son wants to make it this year, so I know where to find a great illustrated pictorial.

Holly @ 504 Main

5thsister said...

I've never made pumpkin puree as I've always been intimidated. Now I know I was just being silly. Thanks for the lesson girlfriend! Say hi to Grace for me.

kyslp said...

I've never made my own in puree before. It doesn't look too scary. (Except for the knife!)

Lissaloo said...

Thank You Thank You Thank You! I am so excited to try this now, it looks WAY better than the store bought. lol, your post gave me a good chuckle too, Thanks Christine!

thamesarino said...

your post made me giggle tonight.. and i needed one so thanks! I love silly people... I happen to be a silly person and think that we are way more fun than the more serious kinds!! : )
and the pumpkin demo was perfect! I LOVE pumpkin.... I have a HUGE list of things to make now that is getting chilly around here! tahnks for the inspiration to get started! : )

Chicago Mom said...

I wish I liked pumpkin. I can't wait to see what you do with the seeds!