Happy October! While I may spend my Septembers pretending summer isn’t over, October 1st is officially time to bring out the Halloween decorations, head to the apple orchards and pumpkin fields, and begin the fall baking season. And nothing says fall like pumpkin … bread, muffins, pie, cheesecake, there is no shortage of ways to enjoy my favorite fall flavor. While the recent canned pumpkin shortage is reportedly over, I still prefer to avoid BPA-contaminated canned foods and make my own pumpkin pureé. It’s really quite simple, and one good sized pumpkin will make enough to last through the fall. Naturally the best place to begin is at the farmers market, where you can find all sorts of unique and flavorful pie pumpkins — I’ve had good success with the Cushaw and Cinderella pumpkins pictured below. Just ask your farmer which variety he or she recommends for baking.
You can also likely find something labeled a pie or sugar pumpkin at the grocery store right now, which is where I picked up this little pie pumpkin.
To begin, use a sharp knife to cut off the stem and then halve the pumpkin.
Use a spoon to scrape out the pumpkin guts. Added bonus of baking your own pumpkin pureé? Pumpkin seeds, which you must save, wash and roast. We’ll come back to that.
Place your cleaned pumpkin halves cut side down on a parchment-paper lined rimmed baking sheet.
Bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes to an hour, until pumpkin is soft to the touch.
Remove from the oven and let cool. Then scoop out the baked flesh, and divide it into one cup portions. Freeze what you’re not using right away, and just thaw a portion in the refrigerator whenever you’re ready to bake.
Now about those seeds. Once dry, toss them with a tablespoon of melted butter or olive oil and your favorite seasoning combination — cinnamon and sugar, cumin and chili pepper, smoked paprika, etc. Roast at 400 degrees for 7 to 9 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure they brown evenly. Remove from oven, let cool and enjoy!
What’s your favorite pumpkin treat?