It's the most wonderful time of the year! No, not Christmas. Just at the end of summer-beginning of fall. The nights and mornings are chilly! (Can you say Sweater weather?) but still warm but not too hot in the afternoons. It's getting dark around 8:45 and the sun isn't up until well after 6. Winter is coming! Right now is my favorite time of year, most mornings we have fog in our field and the smell. My goodness, the smell of fog! If you haven't ever had a foot morning in the country near water you haven't lived. There used to be a river running right through our field, every morning the river of fog rolls in. Literally rolls in, like waves. We call it the ghost river. it's quite lovely and just a tiny bit eerie if you've watched a few too many horror movies.
Our fall vegetables are coming in and I figured I'd share what to do with sugar pumpkins. If you're looking to eat your pumpkin, sugar pumpkins are the way to go, not those giant carving pumpkins. The seeds from the big ones are great toasted but that's about it. How do you tell if you're pumpkins are ripe? Take a look at them, if they're orange that's a pretty good sign, give 'em a knock-knock-knock. Sounds hollow and is orange? You've got a ripe pumpkin.
First things first, whether it's store bought, from a farmer's market or from the garden, give that beauty a good cleaning. There's a few ways to do this. You can wash it in a 10% bleach solution. The bleach evaporates and is completely safe. I don't like the idea of using bleach on my food, or really anywhere else so I use apple cider vinegar and water. 1-3 ratio vinegar to water. I fill the sink with cold water and add a few cups of vinegar to the water and let my produce soak. I usually have a lot to wash and let everything soak for around 10 minutes, give it a good rinse and let it air dry overnight.
Alright, let's get started. Turn the oven on to 350F, get a sharp knife, cutting board, sturdy metal spoon and a bowl for the guts. I always sharpen my knife before cutting large, hard to cut things (pumpkins, squash, etc). There is nothing more dangerous in the kitchen then a dull knife!
Cut the stem end off. It just makes everything easier.
Flip the pumpkin over (former stem side down) so it doesn't roll around. Carefully, cut the pumpkin in half (or as close to half as you can get).
Scoop out the innards, set 'em aside for toasting or saving seeds for next year.
I always give the pumpkins a good brushing with oil and roast cut side down on a foil line pan. You don't need to use foil or oil but I'm lazy and want minimal clean up. If you're going to be making soup you can season with salt and pepper. I wasn't sure what I was going to use it for, so I didn't season.
Roast for about an hour. I check mine around 50 minutes. If a fork goes in through the skin easily it's done. I end up cooking them for usually 65 minutes. That's just my oven
Take 'em out, let it cool until you can handle it enough to flip.
Look at that steamy-roasted pumpkin goodness!
Cool the pumpkin until you can handle without burning your fingers. I usually sneak a few bites while I wait.
Remove the skin. You can spoon it out but I just flip it over a bowl, hold the skin and give it a little shake. Most of the flesh falls right out.
Blend in a food processor, blend or with an immersion blender, or mash to whatever consistency suits your fancy. I like my puree smooth as butter.
Portion, label and freeze flat. I can't stress enough that freezing things flat is the way to do it. They stack so neatly in a bin or a freezer door. I freeze everything flat. This pumpkin gave me 9 cups of puree. Imagine 9 bags of pumpkin frozen in heaps vs stacked flat. Saves so much room.
I have 2 more pumpkins, sitting on my shelf, ready to be roasted! I'm not sure yet what I'm going to make but I can't wait for pumpkin everything! Pumpkins are low in calories, basically fat free, full of potassium, vitamin A and C and a good source of fiber. Not to mention dogs and babies LOVE pumpkin.
Seriously, easy peasy! What are you favorite pumpkin recipes? What should I make? I'm so hungry!