Pumpkins 101: Seeds and Fresh Purée

Halloween is here and I am busy with pumpkins! Homegrown sugar pie pumpkins have been refrigerated since ripening on the vine. I also bought a few large pumpkins from the grocery store for pumpkin seeds and roasting pumpkin to use later in the season.

Sugar Pie Pumpkin from the garden.

Sugar Pie Pumpkin from the garden.

First up are the pumpkin seeds from the store-bought carving pumpkins.

This year I decided to look for a new pumpkin seed recipe; I searched through a lot of recipes. My family likes traditional roasted seeds so kicking it up with sweet or spicy isn’t an option. A few recipes call for boiling the seeds before roasting and this process seems to help with a nice, even salty flavor. Apparently, boiling also helps with digestion. The seeds were delicious, crunchy and gone before the night’s end.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Fresh pumpkin seeds
Salt
Olive Oil

1. Carve your pumpkin, saving the seeds in one bowl and pulp in another bowl. Place the seeds in a colander and rinse well under water to remove all the remaining pulp.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

2. Add seeds to a pot of salted water and bring to a boil. (For every 1 cup of seeds use 4 quarts of water and 3 Tablespoons of salt.) Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 10 minutes.

3. Drain the seeds and coat with 1 Tablespoon olive oil.  Spread seeds on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Lightly sprinkle salt over seeds. Roast seeds at 325 degrees until golden brown. Do not over bake and watch the seeds carefully so they do not burn.

Note from Whole Foods Market: “For spicy pumpkin seeds, mix 1/2 teaspoon each garlic salt, cumin, coriander and cardamom with seeds and oil before roasting. For sweet pumpkin seeds, mix 1 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, cloves and ginger and 1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar with seeds and oil before roasting.”

Sugar Pie pumpkins are the preferred pumpkin for baking and I started growing my own last year. I freeze the pumpkin purée, but I’d like to try to pressure can it some day.

Fresh Pumpkin Purée
Roasted Pumpkins

Roasted Pumpkins

1. Break off the stem from the pumpkin. Slice each pumpkin in half from top to bottom with a sharp knife. Scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp into two separate bowls. Seeds will be saved for next year’s crop and pulp will go in the compost bin.

2. Place the pumpkins with cut side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350° until soft, about an hour or more, depending on the size.

3. When pumpkins have cooled, scoop out all the flesh and place into a colander. Skins go into the composter. Let the flesh drain in the colander for an hour or two.

4. I like to put all of the purée into my Vitamix for a minute or two to get a really smooth texture.

5. Scoop pulp into a freezer bag or seal-a-meal. Label and freeze. Since recipes usually call for a 16-oz can, I like to freeze in two-cup increments.

Use the purée throughout the year, adding to soups, baked goods and smoothies. I have a wonderful pumpkin soup recipe that I’ll post later.

Golden Pumpkin Puree

Golden Pumpkin Puree

After the Halloween festivities have died down, grab your Jack-O-Lanterns and process in your pressure cooker as follows:

Jack-O-Lantern Purée

pressure cooker

Pressure Cooker, not to be confused with a pressure canner.

1. Cut up Jack-O-Lanterns into 4 to 5 inch chunks and place in your pressure cooker with one cup of water. Cook on High Pressure for 10 minutes. Release pressure, remove pumpkin and separate pulp from skin. We usually have a few pumpkins so it takes a few batches to cook it all. Process purée from nos. 3-5 above.

Happy Halloween!

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