Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Processing sugar pie pumpkins

Preparing pumpkin for roastingThis is the first year that I haven't grown sugar pie pumpkins mainly because I didn't get the garden area ready for planting early enough this year. I love planting sugar pie pumpkins because it's relatively effortless and you get so much food out of it.

Fortunately for me, our grocery store stocks locally grown sugar pie pumpkins and I usually buy additional pumpkins for processing to have pumpkin puree on hand for the rest of the year since we tend to eat a lot of it. Between the pumpkin pies, scones, breads and cookies, it always gets used up.

This week our favorite grocery store is carrying the pumpkins and selling them 4 for $5 (Ballard and Greenwood Markets if you live in the area). And since each pumpkin tends to result in the equivalent of about two cans of pumpkin puree, it ends up being quite inexpensive. Sure, there's labor and energy involved in processing them, but I enjoy it and it tastes sooo much better than canned.

So, if you like pumpkin treats, I highly recommend getting some sugar pie pumpkins this year and processing them. You can freeze the puree (measure out in 2 cup increments to equal about one can) or, if you have a pressure canner, you can can the puree (although some still warn against canning pumpkin puree even with a pressure canner).

For the puree, I cut the pumpkins in half horizontally, scoop out the seeds and stringy matter and rub the cut sides with oil. I then placed them face down in roasting pans with one cup of water each and bake them at 350 degrees for about 60 minutes. Once they are cool, I scoop out the flesh and put it in the food processor until it is pureed.

As a final step, I lay down cheesecloth (or a clean kitchen towel) in a colander, add the puree and let it "drip dry" for about an hour and then squeeze out the remaining liquids until it has the consistency of canned pumpkin puree.

Finally, don't neglect the seeds. They are rich in fiber as well as vitamins B and E and make a great snack. You can roast them in the oven with a little olive oil and salt or get fancy and use a chili rub or other seasoning you have on hand. Roast for 40 minutes in a 325 degree oven, stirring occasionally.

Do you make your own pumpkin puree or do you just rely on canned for your recipes that call for pumpkin?

Note: If you are doing the Buy Hand for the Holidays Challenge, giving away homemade mini loaves of pumpkin bread or scones make for a great gift. If you like the pumpkin scones sold at Starbucks, here's a recipe for making them yourselves. So, now is a good time to freeze a bunch of pumpkin puree for your pumpkin-based food gifts.

31 comments:

Green Bean said...

I always freeze ours. This year, we grew giant heirloom French pumpkins in the front yard. I've got about 160 lbs of pumpkin to get through. Thankfully, pumpkins and other winter squash last forever so I can process them between now and January. Whew! Still recovering from apple season. :)

Kristi said...

I've still got about 60 lbs of apple season yet to go, but the sugar pumpkins are out there waiting as soon as I'm done. This is my first year trying them and Fairy squash, so your timing on how to cook and puree the pumpkin was perfect! Thank you so much!

Amber said...

I just froze my first batch of pumpkin puree tonight. I have never actually purchased canned pumpkin. My mother refused to use it, and I've just followed her lead.

When I can't locate sugar pie pumpkins, I use butternut squash instead. It's just as good, and seems to have a longer season of availability in the stores here.

Robj98168 said...

Freezing fan here. I grew sugar pumpkins this year. So easy to grow, easy to pure and freeze! One of my favorite recipes is simple pumpkin soup.

koolchicken said...

This almost makes me miss the East Coast. I'm not a fan of many pumpkin dishes but I do like some stuff (pumpkin flavored gluten free muffins, and cakes). And of course I like the seeds. Pumpkins don't grow here in Hawaii, and I won't be buying them. But I do have a pineapple crown rooting on the kitchen island. :)

Cave-Woman said...

I make my own pumpkin puree. Always. I read about the "proper method" in the JOY OF COOKING a million years ago and have used it ever since.

My guilty pleasure: a pumpkin cookbook from Williams Sonoma. It has so many pumpkin recipes I almost need my own personal patch to keep up with all of the pumpkiny goodness.

My favorite recipes so far: Pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin ravioli, and pumpkin curry. YUM!

Renee Unplugged - said...

I always freeze pumpkin..of course I use the word "pumpkin" loosely to indicate any orange flesh from hard "winter" squash varieties.
Mostly we get "cheese" pumpkins and butternut squash from our CSG.
Although I have a large yard, my fenced garden is small and as squash likes a lot of room to wander I have always planted it outside the fence. Unfortunately deer and groundhogs like the plants if they find them (and they usually do) so my CSG has pretty much been my exclusive source.
We use it for baked goods, soups, "mashed" as a side dish, and the family favorites pancakes and waffles! Last winter I found a recipe for butternut squash mac'n'cheese and want to try it this year. Sounds like it would seriously amp up the goodness on a kid-favorite!

Renee Unplugged - said...

Ooo-ooh...just saw cave-woman's comment about squash-filled ravioli.
I bought some of those last year from a local guy who makes them
and the kids LOVED them.
We served them simply with a little sage butter sauce.

Radical Garbage Man said...

My canning guide emphatically warns against canning pureed pumpkin, even in a pressure canner. It specifies that winter squash needs to be canned cubed because the puree can be a variable density making it impossible to provide a consistently safe processing time.

If you have a newer recipe for this, please share. I prefer popping a lid off a room temperature jar to the minimal planning involved in defrosting.

Otherwise, tell everyone ONLY to freeze pureed pumpkin and to (everybody sing along; you know the words!) only use approved canning recipies and instructions for home canning projects (or you will murder your entire neighborhood with evil toxins... aaahhhhh!)

The Raven said...

I use fresh when its available, but I've definitely used canned when I want pumpkin puree later in the year. You've inspired me to do better this year!

motheralice said...

Wow, kind of embarassed, but as I only ever used pumpkin for pie I've always used canned. Some great ideas though (especially for the holidays)! May have to see if I can find some good pie pumpkins and give it a shot!

Thanks! :)

Carla said...

Growing pie pumpkins for the first time this year - only have about 5, & the grandkids seem to have picked out 3 of them... :)
Will try your method for the remainder - I also have several tiny pumpkins - are they edible? or just for decorations...? (I grew them because I had the seed, & I've grown them before so "knew" I'd have some)

dc said...

Sadly, 5 hail storms this year were not kind to the pumpkins and winter squash. In the past we've kept whole pumpkins and butternut squashs in our cool breezeway all winter and they hold up very well. Never thought about freezing them but in the future I will.

Erika said...

I've not yet preserved our pumpkin puree - usually I puree just before I need it from the pumpkin, or use a jar from our storage (rotate, rotate, rotate!). I must admit, I like the storage ones better - the consistency is much thicker, more like frosting than soup... As a WSU extension staff, I must echo Radical Garbage Man - don't can pureed squash, although, there are approved recipes for pressure canned CHUNK squash (you could puree it later), although, the rule-breaker in me wants to try it some day... once there's a harmless vaccine for botulism and food poisoning... LOL

I think I'll add pumpkin to my list and make some puree this week... and freeze it; I use purees in place of butter in dairy-free baking.

--Erika

Kelsie said...

I just used up last year's pumpkin puree (I grew Cinderella Pumpkins...SO GOOD), and now I'm getting ready to process this year's pumpkins. My French heirlooms failed (squash vine borers), but I grew plenty of Small Sugar pumpkins. Right now, they're in my basement, along with two HUGE Big Max pumpkins I grew. I'm not sure whether or not the Big Max pumpkins are all that tasty, but since each one will yield the equivalent of about 15-20 cans of puree, we'll see!!

Last year was my first year growing my own pumpkins and I will never, ever, ever go back to canned puree again.

Farmer's Daughter said...

I never use store-bought canned. I bake and puree and freeze pumpkin, butternut squash and other winter squashes.

PS I love your new pic. Long and flowing is better than pulled back, in my opinion.

Farmer's Daughter said...

Oh, and all the canning research I've done states not to can pureed pumpkin/winter squash, but do it cubed instead.

utahlawyer said...

I process my pumpkins and other winter squashes by putting them in the microwave for about 10 min. Saves time and energy.

Aimee said...

I have never processed winter squash since they keep so well as is. But I do use a lot of pumpkin and other winter squash in season. I tend to favor savory applications. One of my very favorites is a pumpkin-roasted-poblano soup with cheddar cheese. It's rich, filling, and delightfully spicy.

lace said...

Pureed and froze pumpkin for the first time last year and we grew our own this year to try. We have about 9 pumpkins.

Christine F. said...

I always make homemade pumpkin puree with all of our CSA pumpkins and freeze it in 1 cup increments. I prefer to bake squash whole and then cut in half and degoup afterwards. I find it easier that way. You can still toast the pumpkin seeds afterwards too. I never bother to strain my puree either and have never run into any problems recipe wise. I'm worried I'll actually have to buy some sugar pumpkins at the store this year b/c NH is having trouble with pumpkin crops this year due to our unusually rainy summer. Last I heard they were still green! My favorite pumpkin recipes are pumpkin dip with apple slices and gingersnaps, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread and pumpkin waffles. Mmmmm!

Robj98168 said...

Your new pic is awesome BTW. MUch better than the last one. Easier to draw mustaches on!

Crunchy Chicken said...

Jeez. What's with all the haters of my last picture? Rob?

Anonymous said...

How do farmers make any money selling these when the store sells 4 for $5?

What happened to wanting local and sustainable food?
EJ

Crunchy Chicken said...

EJ - I doubt that's what they are paying the local farm since it's a temporary sale for the stores. They are running the pumpkins as a loss leader.

Angela said...

ahhhh, that's what I've been doing wrong. I haven't been draining the puree with cheesecloth!

*wonders how that will affect cooking time for her pie recipe*


thanks!

knittingwoman said...

after having watery issues with pumpkin puree in the past I have always used canned. I am going to try and get some pie pumpkins this year and cook and freeze my own puree. I make pumpkin muffins a lot. We always seem to eat any squash we purchase, at an entire butternut roasted earlier this week:)

Samantha said...

I got some sugar pie pumpkins this year (they're FAR more expensive here bc of the poor growing weather) and froze the leftover puree. I used them for a muffin recipe that calls for puree without straining (and it was pretty good): http://hubpages.com/hub/Making-Your-Own-Pumpkin-Puree-and-Muffins
The farmers' market in town only sells decorative pumpkins (gigantic or tiny), not baking pumpkins :(

Jenn said...

Thanks for the tips! My daughter is in love with the tiny pie pumpkins we got from the CSA. She wants to name them. I suggested Muffins, Pie, Custard and Soup. She's mortified that we're going to eat them. Remind me never to get chickens!

Allie said...

I always freeze my puree. In our house, it's called the "Great Pumpkin Processing of 20xx," because so many get done. I don't know if you do this or not, but when we drain the pumpkin mash, we catch it all in pitchers and drink the pumpkin juice afterward (it's better chilled). Also, you can puree and use the peels too. I usually put in a couple tablespoons worth (frozen in ice cube trays) in each recipe that contains pumpkin, and we use the stringy bits attached to the seeds to make pumpkin butter. That way every part of the pumpkin gets used and there's absolutely no waste.

A lot of the time I don't bother using the sugar pumpkins, instead opting for a couple of the huge carving ones. I really haven't noticed an appreciable difference in the flavour.

temptressyarn said...

I prefer Cheese Pumpkins (the larger, flat, buff colored ones) and freeze it after cooking and draining in a method similar to yours. In the past I've tried peeling first and steaming, but it leaves too much liquid in the pumpkin, and is a lot more work. The Cheese pumpkins are "like buttah" and make a creamy puree. 2 cups is the amount in my pie recipe, so I freeze in 2 cup containers.

Also make sure you scrub pumpkins with soap and water prior to baking with the skin on, particularly if they're not organic. Pumpkins are very susceptible to fungal diseases, and are sprayed often.

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