This is a guest post of sorts, from my lovely wife. I asked her to write how to prep pumpkins for our Holiday Pumpkin Smoothie I mentioned in that post that it is better to use your own fresh pumpkin instead of canned. Enjoy!
Jeff wants me to write an article about pumpkins. What am I supposed to write? All I know about pumpkins is that they taste yummy with lots of spices in muffins, cheesecake, pie, pancakes, and smoothies. They are supposed to have vitamins, but I don’t know which ones…maybe A? All I know is they taste good and are a lot easier to prepare than I thought.
Indeed, after using canned pumpkins for years, I decided it was time to explore the options presented by preparing my own pumpkin for use in the above-mentioned food items. What I discovered in my research is that there are a variety of pumpkins I did not know even existed! However, rather than tackle all of them at once, I started out simply with the most basic and familiar: Sugar Pie Pumpkins.
Sugar Pie Pumpkins are typically the type of pumpkins we find in the average grocery stores in October right before Halloween. These are different from the enormous jack-o-lantern pumpkins in that they have a rounder shape, thinner skin, lovely consistent orange coloring, are easier to cut, and taste much better (jack-o-lantern pumpkins, I learned, are not intended to be eaten).
So, of course, I purchased a nice one and then Googled “how to cook a pumpkin” to see what I was in for next. I was pleasantly surprised to find that cutting and preparing the pumpkin was not nearly as intimidating as I imagined. Here is what I did:
- Washed and dried the pumpkin skin.
- Cut off the stem with my electric knife. I suppose I could have used any sharp knife, but I didn’t want any hassle. I also cut off enough around the stem so that I could lift the “lid” and scoop out the innards.
- Scooped out the innards – or guts -, saving those highly nutritious and delicious seeds for roasting. I’ll tell you about that later.
- Once the innards were well removed, I just used the electric knife to slice the pumpkin into chunks small enough to fit into one of my covered glass microwavable bowls.
- I added a bit of water, enough so that each piece of pumpkin was sitting in about ½ inch of it, placed the lid on the bowl, and popped it into the microwave for about 5-6 minutes on high.
- Presto! When the timer went off, I had cooked pumpkin!
- Next, I burned the heck off of my fingertips when I tried to remove the skin from the fleshy part, so I decided to let it cool while I nursed my blistered fingers. What a dork.
- Once the skin had cooled and my fingers had recovered, I removed the skin from each piece and placed the flesh (of the pumpkin, not my fingers) into the VitaMix. I don’t remember the settings, but I turned it on just long enough and fast enough to make it look like the pumpkin that comes out of the can.
- And that was that! I had pumpkin prepped for making the autumn goodies that we enjoy in our house.
The pumpkin kept well in plastic containers in the refrigerator and freezer, too.
Back to the pumpkin seeds! Do NOT toss them out with the pumpkin guts. They roast up into a tasty and nutritious snack, much better for you than a bag of chips.
- Thoroughly wash the pumpkin seeds, setting them free from the tangled gooey mess of the pumpkin guts. Do not save the guts.
- Spread the seeds on a lightly oiled (I used Pam – the cooking spray, not a person) cookie sheet and allow them to dry completely before placing them in the oven. This is an important step or your seeds will turn out a bit like guts. Yuck.
- Once the seeds are dry, sprinkle on them whatever spices or seasonings you prefer: garlic salt, plain salt, cinnamon sugar, all spice, or cayenne pepper. Use your imagination and have fun.
- Place the cookie sheet of seeds into the oven at about 325 degrees for about 8-10 minutes. Stir the seeds on the cookie sheet so that they are evenly roasted. Return them to the oven for up to another 10-20 minutes.
- KEEP AN EYE ON THEM. This is NOT the recipe where you should allow yourself to become distracted by the television, or the computer and your Facebook messages, or your cell phone, or small children getting into stuff, or neighbors that drop by unexpectedly, or husbands who can’t find clean socks and so you start a load of laundry, or sorting through the mail and paying bills, or picking up that hard-to-put-down book again. I’m sorry; did you want them burnt?
- When your seeds are a lovely, toasty, golden brown – remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for about 10 minutes.
You could eat these by the handful like popcorn right away or store them in a plastic container to enjoy later.
Gosh. I hope you didn’t burn yours.