Just a quick sidenote to announce the creation of two more pages: The Recipe Index and the How-To Index. Of course, you can still use the tags or the search function to find things like this, but if you’d like to see a big list of everything without scrolling through the posts, these are the way to do it.
As part of my real food project, I try to eat as seasonally as I can. I avoid strawberries in December, and apples in the spring. While we do live in a world with a global economy that allows us to have foods from all over the map at any given moment, this isn’t the way food was meant to be consumed. Also, most of the time, in order to look nice when it gets to you, the produce has been picked before it’s ripe. Varieties have been bred in order to survive the long abusive shipping time, not necessarily to taste good. So if you want the best taste out of your food (and want to save a little coin), it’s best to eat in season, when the plants would have given it to you.
This makes each season a special treat for me, and one of the things I love about fall and winter is that I get to use pumpkin. I love pumpkin, and I love baking with it. Now, the canned stuff is ok, but if you’re going to cook with pumpkin, why not go all out? Make your own homemade pumpkin puree.
You need a pie pumpkin because jack-o-lantern pumpkins are too tough and have very thin flesh. Not good for eating.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the pumpkin in half, like you would a hamburger bun, with the stem on top of one piece. Clean out the seeds and strings. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Put a piece of parchment paper down on a cookie sheet. Place the pumpkin halves on the parchment paper, cut side down. Toss in the oven for about an hour, until you can tell the pumpkin is soft, either by appearance, or inserting a knife or fork. Pull out of the oven, let cool. Once you can handle the pumpkin, scoop out the flesh, into a blender or food processor. It should be very soft and you should be able to just scrape it off the inside of the skin. Puree until smooth. Store in an airtight container.
In the fridge, this might last a week, depending on how wet your pumpkin is. In the freezer, it lasts a long time. I don’t know when it goes bad because I’ve always used it up before then. If you notice a liquid from your puree, just drain it off. It’s a side effect of the pumpkin cooking, and you don’t want it if you want your puree to behave like the canned stuff. Use in equal portions as you would canned pumpkin.
Also, I have heard of methods of boiling pumpkin, but that involved peeling it, cutting it small, and the end product was way too watery. I like the roasting method because it gives me a nice caramelized flavor, a not so wet puree, and it’s easier.