Monday, January 3, 2011

Fresh pumpkin – it’s easy to use

Yesterday I was reading a gardening magazine that I quite enjoy when I came across an article about a farm family that is dedicated to growing organically. I scanned the article and photos then arrived at some of their recipes. Ah, pumpkin pie. Let me see how they make it I thought. I began to read the ingredient list. It began with canned pumpkin. What? A farm family dedicated to organics who makes their pie from a can? Please say it isn’t true.

I grew up not liking pumpkin pie because the only kind I ever saw came from a can. When I learned how easy pumpkins are to grow, and how much nutrition they contain, I tried making a pie from my homegrown pumpkin. Either my taste buds changed or the ingredients did it for me because I enjoyed the pie.

I’ve since discovered many ways to enjoy pumpkin. I’ve tried pumpkin filled ravioli, pumpkin pasta, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cake and pumpkin coffee cake. (Check out that recipe at It’s easy and so moist. I substituted yogurt for most of the sour cream.)

I do understand the need some folks have for the convenience of a can and according to the Mayo Clinic (, that’s not all bad. The nutritional Vitamin A, potassium and iron are comparable. They point out, however, that you should carefully examine the ingredients in the canned pumpkin to be sure you aren’t getting a lot of high-calorie additions.

How do you get pureed pumpkin to create with? It’s very easy.
1) Cut the pumpkin in half.
2) Use a spoon to remove the seeds. Save them for toasting in the oven if you like.
3) Find a pan large enough to hold both halves, or use two pans. Put ½ inch or so of water in the pan. Place pumpkin cut side down and cover with foil.
4) Bake at 400 degrees until the pumpkin is soft when you prick it with a fork. Large pumpkins might take an hour.
5) When cool enough to handle, use a spoon to remove the flesh. Place in food processor with a spoon full or two of water from the pan. Process until you get a smooth puree.
6) Now you can cook with it! If you don’t want to use it all immediately, measure it and freeze in plastic bags with the amount marked on the outside. Then you can enjoy pumpkin even when the season is past.

I promise that if you start with a good pumpkin, you won’t want to go back to canned filling the next time you make pumpkin pie.

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