Friday, October 22, 2010

Pumpkins 101...Pumpkin to puree and how to cook those pumpkin seeds!

So you go to the store with the best of intentions. You see that lovely display of pumpkins surrounded with all the ingredients to make your own pumpkin pie. For a split second you are in the mood to bake and you throw it all in your cart. Problem is that once you are home you have this pumpkin sitting there and you don't really know what to do with it!

The thought of taking a pumpkin and making your own puree might be slightly intimidating. It is actually really easy and once you do it you will see that it isn't a big all.

There are many ways you can do this, but I found this to be the easiest.

Wash the entire pumpkin under cold water to remove any dirt that might be on the outside. Remove the stem from your pumpkin and slice it in half lengthwise.

Remove the pulp and seeds from the pumpkin and scoop them into a bowl. We will work with these once the pumpkin goes in the oven.

Brush the cut surface lightly with olive oil and place cut side down in a baking pan. Add 1 cup of water to the bottom of your baking dish (this helps cook the pumpkin with the heat/steam). Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 90 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender.

In the meantime, rinse the pumpkin seeds under hot water in a strainer and remove as much of the pulp and membrane as possible. You may need to separate it all out with your hands as you go. Once the seeds are nice and clean, pat them dry with a paper towel and lay them out in a single layer on a baking sheet (or two if you have too many). Make sure that they are spread out enough because it is very important that they dry out completely before you bake them. The seeds will stay on this baking sheet overnight, or 24 hours.

Now back to that pumpkin:

When the pumpkin is done cooking, remove it from the oven and place it cut side up until it has cooled off enough to handle, but is still warm. Look at that pumpkin skin ... it is about ready to just fall off all on its own!

Once it has cooled, scoop the pumpkin out with a spoon, leaving only a small amount behind with the shell. You can either puree it in a blender, use the whisk attachment on a stand mixer or a hand mixer to beat the pumpkin. It should only take a minute to blend it all together.

Line a strainer with a paper towel and place over a bowl. Scoop the pumpkin into the paper towel and let sit over the strainer for 2 hours to drain the excess liquid.

You will be shocked at how much liquid that pumpkin has in it! After two hours I had over a cup of liquid that had drained out of my puree! I was left with about 2 cups of pumpkin after all was said and done.

Store your pumpkin puree in an air tight container and use it in your favorite fall dish!

Fast forward to the next day:

How you proceed from here depends on how many seeds were in your pumpkin. I used a small pumpkin, so I only had a total of 1/2 cup of seeds.

Spread seeds out on a baking sheet and toss with melted butter (1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon should be plenty). Sprinkle with your choice of seasoning. You can use sea salt, kosher salt, garlic salt, seasoned salt, cinnamon and sugar, creole seasoning, cayenne pepper mixed with salt...the possibilities are endless here! Do what you like. Give them enough seasoning so that they are all covered lightly, but they don't need to be drowning in it.

Make sure that they are spread out enough and then bake them in the oven at 300 degrees for 30-45 minutes depending on how many seeds you have. Make sure you start checking them at around 30 minutes so you don't over bake them.


Monica said...

mmm... I love roasted pumpkin (and squash) seeds! Still haven't made any this year.

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