I've been having a bit of a mid-life crisis, I think, becoming a lot more introspective, and trying to get my life in order, be a better person, and live more simply and frugally. To that end I got a bee in my bonnet last weekend and decided I was going to get a pumpkin and make my own pureed pumpkin to bake into pies and muffins and such. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
We had a bunch of small pumpkins, 4-6" in diameter, from our CSA and I asked our farmer what kind of pumpkins they were, because I was going to break them down for pies. He told me they weren't particularly sweet, and directed me to a huge, 12-14" diameter pumpkin with deep sectioning. It was $3, which seemed like a good deal, so I bought it, intending to break it down and make a pie for Nemo, who loves pumpkin pie. Never mind that I don't really know how to break down the pumpkin or bake it into a pie. Have internet, will give it a go.
Serendipitously, Andrea posted instructions for breaking down a pumpkin at Andrea's Recipes within a day of buying the pumpkin. Great! I can follow instructions! I'm in business.
First, I cut the sucker in half, and was instantly amazed at the deep color of this pumpkin.
The photo does not do it justice. Deep, wonderful, pumpkiny color, not like the lighter peach color I was used to seeing in our jack-o-lantern pumpkins.
I scooped all the goo out, cut it in half again, put two quarters on the baking pan, and shoved that sucker in the oven for an hour and a half - there wasn't room to put all pieces in the oven at once. That pumpkin was big.
It came out all roasty looking, with a thick skin over the surface of the pumpkin. I checked the instructions and noticed I was supposed to cover it with foil and I hadn't paid attention. Bugger. I had to use a knife to cut pieces off, and then I grabbed my spoon to scoop out the goo. I expected it to be like a hot scoop through ice cream, but it was more like when you scoop the stringy bits and seeds out - more like scraping. I scraped, and scraped, and scraped, dumping all the stuff into the food processor.
This is the goo from just one half of the pumpkin. I scraped, and scraped, and scraped, then ground it all up into a fine puree. It was pretty runny, so I set it in a strainer over a bowl to see if I could get some of the water out.
It seemed to do the trick, so then I measured out two-cup portions into freezer bags and stuck them in the freezer. Then I had to do it all over again with the other half of the pumpkin, only this time I remembered to put the foil over it. It still had a skin, though it was far thinner than the first batch.
Scraping, scraping, and more scraping. There were bits of pumpkin everywhere, all over the counter, stove, food processor, in my hair, down my shirt, staining everything it touched a brilliant, bright orange. Even after two washings in the dishwasher, my food processor blade is stained orange on the plastic part.
More pureeing, more straining, more draining, more measuring and portioning and freezing. All told, I got 15 cups of puree from that one pumpkin. My arms ached from all the scraping and my hands were raw from a combination of moisture and the rough edge of the spoon I used to scrape.
I've got six of these bright orange bricks in my freezer, plus I took three cups and made my very first pumpkin pies, one with crust and one without, for Nemo, using a recipe I found on the Pick Your Own website. I didn't like it much, I like a much more dense pie, but Nemo thought it was the bomb. He at the entire crustless mini-pie in one day. I guess it was sweet enough after all.
A week later, even after several thorough scourings, I'm still finding pumpkin bits in the nooks and crannies of my kitchen. I'm glad I tried it, there's something very satisfying about doing the whole thing from scratch. But next time I'm starting with a not-so-great pumpkin.