How to Use Fresh Pumpkins

by GettingFreedom on September 28, 2009

A few years back I found it rather daunting and frightening to even think about using a fresh pumpkin for anything more than a Jack-O-Lantern. Now, the stuff in the can just doesn’t appeal to me. The flavor from a fresh pumpkin is incredibly amplified compared to the canned variety. Surprisingly enough, they aren’t difficult to deal with, either.

I posted a detailed post on how to get pumpkin puree last year when I posted my Pumpkin Pie recipe. Basically all you are needing to do, is take the seeds and stringy goodness out of the middle of pumpkin and cook it. I highly recommend using the pressure cooker method if you have one (or need another need to get one. ;) ) because it takes the least amount of time. A whopping 15-20 minutes from start to finish.

After you have cooked your pumpkin, you can either use it right away, just as you would canned pumpkin–or you can freeze it. Roughly 1 1/2-1 3/4 cup of fresh pumpkin is equivalent to one 15 oz can of pumpkin. One thing to keep in mind here is that pumpkin puree is not safe to can. Due to the difference in thickness of the puree and the acidity from one pumpkin to the next, there is just no way to determine exactly how to process it. Because of this, pumpkin puree is best frozen.

To do this, just add the desired amount of pumpkin puree to a Ziploc Freezer Bag and remove all the air. I like to stick to about 1 1/2-3/4 cup so that I have “a can” worth when I need it. While I usually will buy generic on everything, I’ve noticed that Ziploc is definitely the way to go with storage bags. The generics just do not compare. Another thing that I’ve been experimenting with is going ahead and seasoning it a bit with cinnamon and some pumpkin pie spice before sealing up the bag.

When removing the stringy goodness and the seeds, be sure to reserve the seeds to make roasted pumpkin seeds. I’m not sure what my favorite part is about using fresh pumpkins–the puree or the seeds?

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin Seeds

Make sure you rinse all of the stringy goodness and pulp off of your seeds. Place on a baking sheet, in a thin layer making sure none are overlapping. Coat the seeds in butter. I used a butter spray, but you could also melt butter and use a brush to lightly coat the seeds. They do not need to be doused in the butter, which is why I do not put them in a bowl and toss around. They really just need something for the salt to stick to, and add just a smidgen of flavor. Sprinkle the seeds with a pinch of sea salt.
Place in a preheated 300° oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes. Check after 10 minutes and stir around a bit. Store in an air tight container.
I can’t wait to play around with the spices a bit. I’m thinking the next time I will try a cinnamon/pumpkin pie spice/dab of sugar combo. Pumpkin seeds are great for snacks, in granola or even as a salad topper.

Another benefit to using fresh pumpkins, this supposed canned-pumpkin shortage this year isn’t going to affect me. My home grown beauties, or the many I see around town, will do me just fine. ;)
This post is included in Tasty Tuesday , Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, and Real Life’s Your Life Your Blog and Two Cents Tuesday.
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