And the crazy thing? We didn’t even grow pumpkins this year.
Leave it to our calorie-laden culture to deem pumpkins as solely decorative until Thanksgiving passes, then orange obstacles on the porch to be dumped, smashed, or rolled into the gutter. We, however, seek them for a much more primitive reason: we eat them.
Rachel picked some up from a gardener who had grown a surplus of this gourd family member; he was giving them away via Craigslist. A friend from work gave us five more behemoths. With a dozen pumpkins to work with, we began the process of processing a hundred pounds of this classic winter squash.
You can eat two parts of the pumpkin: the seeds and the meaty wall of the pumpkin itself. Pretty much everything but the stem, skin, and that creepy-stringy stuff inside.
Step one is to slice the pumpkin in half cross-wise. Plunging a kitchen knife to the hilt, then using the knife to lever-split the pumpkin works best. Once sliced in half, scoop out the “brains” of the pumpkin. Most of us have done this if we’ve ever carved a Jack ‘O Lantern for All Hallow’s Eve. Same process. There are all sorts of gadgets that make the scraping easier. I find the edge of a tablespoon works as well as anything.
Next, place the seeds in a bowl of water. If you want to roast them into crunchy seeds, you’ll process them post haste. If you don’t mind them chewy, then wait a while. Not sure why the seeds come out crispier when dealt with straight away, but that’s been the experience in this kitchen.
Once the pumpkin has been scraped and gutted, place the halves on a cookie sheet in an oven set to 350 degrees for about an hour. At the 45 minute mark, pierce the wall of the pumpkin with a sharp knife or skewer. If the pumpkin’s flesh resists, leave him in the oven. If the knife slides in easily, he’s done.
Let the pumpkin cool on the cookie sheet for half an hour or until cool enough to handle. Use a sharp knife to “shave” the skin from the flesh of the pumpkin wall. Once done, cut the pumpkin into chunks and toss them into the food processor. Pulse and mix until the chunks have become a mushy apple sauce like consistency. This mush can be placed into freezer containers for later use.
Rachel has several recipes she uses that processed pumpkin: waffles, muffins, and pie top the list….
Rachel’s pumpkin muffins
I love that my dear husband rattles off recipes and t0-do’s for foods like I came up with all the recipes I post. I’m a total recipe thief, and this one comes from my dear friend Janet. We love these muffins – they’re a staple around here. Sometimes we add in extras like chocolate chips, raisins or chopped nuts. The recipe is flexible and forgiving, so have fun!
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup pumpkin
- 3 Tbsp fruit juice or apple sauce
- Preheat oven to 400° F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin pan.
- Mix all ingredients. Scoop batter into muffin pan.
- Cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Press gently on the tops of the muffins in the center of the tin to test for done-ness. They should feel springy and not soft or wet. The muffins in the center of the tin are last to get done, so if those two are done, they all are.
- Remove muffins from oven. Allow to cool for 2 minutes, then carefully remove muffins and cool on a baking rack.
- Devour with hot cocoa, says Anthony….