Monday, October 19, 2009

Pumpkins - Canned v Fresh?

Now is the time we start seeing the price of canned pumpkin come down in price....a little that is. However, if you check the stores, you can get a whole pumpkin for $2, $3, etc. depending on the size you get. You can get a medium sized pumpkin for about $3 right now, and medium sized is what you want to fix your own pumpkin to have for pumpkin pies all year long.

Here's all you...first, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Pick out a medium sized pumpkin that is pretty much free of bumps and bruises. Give it a good wash rag bath to get all of the dust, grit and grime off of the skin. Now, with a good knife (now would be a good time to put the hubbie to work), cut the pumpkin in half vertically (top to bottom, not side to side). Scoop out the seeds and set aside to make baked seeds if you like pumpkin seeds. Once you have the insides cleaned out, turn the pumpkin inside down (skin side up) on a baking sheet. If you got a medium sized pumpkin, you should be able to fit both halves on a cookie sheet/baking sheet. Take a little bit of shortening and rub it all over the skin of the pumpkin. Not too much shortening or you will have it popping in the oven, but enough to see a good glaze on the skin. Pop the sheet into the oven and wait about an hour. The pumpkin is done when the skin has pulled (bubbled) away from the pumpkin.

Once the pumpkin is done remove the cookie sheet being very careful. There will be a lot of liquid in the cookie sheet and you don't want to spill it on yourself and get burned and I would be very sad.

Moving on.... with a sharp pointed knife, peel the skin off of the pumpkin. If the pumpkin is done, it will peel off with very little effort. If it doesn't peel off easily, pop it back into the oven and cook some more because it's not done enough.

Now, once you have the skin peeled off, cut the halves into big chunks. You want to drain the pumpkin until the vast majority of the juice is out of the pumpkin. What I like to do is take a big piece of cheese cloth (doubled it over a couple of times) and put a couple of big chunks into it, tie it up into a bag and hang it from the knob on my kitchen cabinet. I put a bowl underneath to catch the liquid. I let it hang there for a couple of hours. No different that what I do when making strawberry jelly. Tap the bag every so often to help the juice drain. You don't want to do a lot of squeezing on the bag because then the pumpkin will start oozing through the holes in the cheese cloth.

Once you have the pumpkin drained, put a couple of chunks at a time into your blender and blend it up well. It should be thick (not liquidity). Make sure you don't have any chunks left. I set my blender on puree. That's all there is to it.

A medium pumpkin yields quite a bit of pumpkin and it freezes very well. I use the Ziploc vacuum freezer bags and they work perfect. Just FYI, a typical pumpkin pie recipe calls for about 2 cups of pumpkin so you can always measure out the amount of pumpkin you need for your pies and freeze in those portions, or freeze in 1 cup portions and take out as many as you need for your pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookie, pumpkin rolls, etc. recipe.

If you're into canning, you can also can the cooked pumpkin. Just be certain and check your books for the length of time to boil the jars.

This is so simple and the cost in the end is so much cheaper than buying it in the stores. It comes out to about 1/4 of the cost. I've compared prices in the past many times and believe me, it is very much cheaper. I'm going to buy my pumpkin this weekend. The prices seem to be pretty good this year so I may buy 2. My husband loves Pumpkin rolls.


Let me know if you have any questions.

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