Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Today Class - P is for Pumpkin!

Most days I feel like a bumbling fool without the knowledge or ability to really teach or contribute to society. I'm not dumb by any means and I've learned a thing or two from my time on this earth, but c'mon...people aren't knocking down my door to pick my brain to reveal the vast amount of wisdom and knowledge buried deep within. However, every so often I come across a chance moment in which I know something that someone in my circle is not aware of and I jump on the opportunity to teach and explain all that I know.

Two mornings ago, hours before the roosters were rubbing the sleep from their eyes, I picked up a co-worker on the way to work. While I sat in my car waiting for her to finish packing up her stuff inside her house, I noticed that she had a fair number of leftover Halloween pumpkins sitting in her yard. A couple hours into the shift I asked if she was planning on doing anything with her pumpkins. She sighed heavily and explained that she just didn't have the time to even carve them this year since she's been so busy with work and renovations on the house, so they were just going to get composted. I asked if it would be alright for me to grab a couple of them (because I LOVE roasted pumpkin seeds and hated the idea of them going waste), which she easily permitted.

Then I said that if she wants, she can give me some old empty yogurt/butter/ice cream containers and I will bake the flesh for her and she can have it to do with as she wishes. I had so much left over from my own pumpkins that my freezer couldn't take on any more, but I didn't want it to go to waste so I would do that for her if she wanted. I also know that she is a fantastic cook and baker so she might want the pumpkin for future kitchen endeavors. She gave me this strange look and asked what I meant. I repeated the offer. Then she asked, "So you bake the pumpkin? In the oven?"

Me - "Yeah, then you can bake or cook with it."
Her - "Like can you make pumpkin pie with it?"
Me - "Yes, exactly, Or loaves, muffins, soups...anything you want."
Her - "So it's like the stuff in the cans at the store?"

Where do people think that canned pumpkin comes from? The label clearly indicates the one and only ingredient in the can - "Pumpkin."

At this point my mind was slightly blown that this woman, in all of her life, never baked the flesh of an old Jack O Lantern to use for her future baking needs. And then I thought, "Is it common for people to not do this?"

Throughout my years I have learned that it is slightly uncommon for people to bake their pumpkins and use it to cook with, but now I have learned that is it way more uncommon than I realized. In my family, every single November we would bake our pumpkins, scoop out the flesh and freeze it where it would be an important ingredient in future pumpkin loaves, muffins and other delicious baked goods. It's a super easy process and will save you lots of money on that canned pumpkin you buy in the stores.

So this morning I went and swiped 3 of the abandoned pumpkins from my co-worker's driveway and recorded the process for your learning needs. Here is the easy step-by-step process to baking your old Halloween pumpkin to create your very own stock of healthy and homemade pumpkin puree.

Step 1: Take an old Jack O Lantern.
Please make sure that it is not moldy. Ewwwww. 

Or as I did today, take a pumpkin and scoop out the guts.

Do not forget to keep the guts! Those seeds are priceless!

Step 2: Cut the pumpkin in half and place face down on a baking sheet. 

Step 3: Bake at 375 degrees F for 45-90 minutes, depending on the thickness of the flesh.
The skin will get dark and wrinkly.
Step 4: When the pumpkin cools a little, peel off the skin.
It will naturally pull away from the flesh so this is an easy task to accomplish.

Step 5: Put all of the pumpkin into a large bowl and puree
it with a hand blender.

Ahhhhhhhh. Nice and smooth.

At this point you can now freeze the pumpkin in empty yogurt containers, or whatever empty plastic tubs you have laying around the basement that you have been waiting to have a chance to reuse. I recommend freezing them in 1-2 cups portions since recipes generally ask for these amounts of pumpkin puree.

But because I am me, I am not done yet because I just did all of this for the seeds! 

Step 6: Toss the raw seeds in some oil and sprinkle generously with sea salt. 
Spread onto a parchment lined baking sheet and roast until brown and crispy. 
Stir them several times in the process to make sure that they roast evenly. 

Step 7: Be a good person and bake your co-worker a pumpkin loaf as a thank 
you for allowing you to take her pumpkins for your own personal use.

Now after all of this, I just know you're thinking that this is way too long of a process and no normal person has enough time to do such a thing. It's really not all that time consuming at all if you are even slightly talented at time management. If you're going to be home doing other chores or in and out doing errands, it's easy to swoop in and out of the kitchen to do these tasks at cooking, cooling and pureeing intervals. 

Or you can just toss your pumpkin off of a roof-top and watch is smash into smithereens onto the street below. Your call. 


  1. Thanks for teaching me what to do with these!! I have never done this before, had no clue how. Next year I will roasting seeds and baking pumpkins!

  2. Hooray! I have made a difference!!!!