Pumpkin!

Back in high school we had a pumpkin patch at my church. In order to raise more money for the youth group we made pumpkin butter and pumpkin pies from the pumpkins in the patch. Ever since then, I have used fresh pumpkin rather than canned.

I think fresh pumpkin has more flavor and a brighter color than the canned variety. Also, by using fresh pumpkin you can avoid any chemical or additives found in commercially produced foods. If you buy your pumpkins locally and/or organically there’s an added bonus. Don’t forget, many people do pumpkin patches as fundraisers so your pumpkins can support a good cause as well!

Perhaps you’ve made fresh pumpkin before, but not many have. I’ve gotten quite a few funny looks saying that I make pies and breads without using canned pumpkin, so I’ve decided to share with you all how to take that round pumpkin and make it ready for your next recipe!

Choose pumpkins that are at least the size of a softball but not as big as a soccer ball. It should be big enough that the ridges aren’t very deep. The ones I got had a diameter about my handspan to give you an idea.

Wipe off any excess dirt from the outside of the pumpkin. Wrap a towel or cloth around the stem and pull the stem off. Pull in the opposite direction of the stem’s curve. For this one, pull to the picture’s right.

Cut the pumpkin in half. Try to keep the cut straight to provide an even cut surface. Scoop out the seeds and pulp. You can save the seeds for later if you’d like. Make sure you get all of the stringy, darker colored pulp. The flesh will be a slightly lighter, more yellow color.

Place cut side down on a slightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-45 minutes depending upon the size of the pumpkins. These took about 35.

The pumpkin is done when you can easily push in the pumpkin for the outside. Don’t worry if the skin looks burned.

Flip the pumpkin (you may want to let it cool for a little bit first, but try to scoop it when it’s still warm).  Scoop off any burned flesh and throw away. Scoop out the rest of the flesh and put in blender. If the pumpkin is really well done the skin might just fall off the flesh.

Blend the pumpkin until it is the constancy of baby food. There may be watery juices in the pumpkin flesh, that’s okay.

Freeze or can the pumpkin to save for later. If you plan to use it right away, you may want to let it cool slightly before adding it to your recipe. The two pumpkins I baked today gave me 5 cups of pumpkin for use.
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