Friday, November 27, 2009

How to process a pumpkin: a pictorial essay

Materials you will need:

1 sugar pumpkin (not the kind you carve)
1 knife
1 cutting board
1 9x13 pan
aluminum foil
large spoon
food processor

Preheat oven to 400F.

1. Using big knife, cut pumpkin in half across the middle.

2. Scoop out seeds using your hands or a spoon. If you want to keep them, do it over a colander under running water. Separate the seeds from the strands, rinse, and place on a cookie sheet to dry for a day.

3. Use a spoon to scrape out as many of the strings as you can. It's not a big deal if you can't get them all.

4. Place pumpkin halves flesh-side down in the baking pan and add about 1/4 inch of water to the bottom of the pan. Cover with aluminum foil and roast for 45-60 minutes or until flesh is soft when poked with a fork. Let cool.



5. When pumpkin halves are cool enough to handle, use large spoon to scrape soft flesh from rind. Put 1/4 of the flesh in the food processor at a time. Process until very smooth (the consistency of baby food). Add processed pumpkin to a bowl and repeat until all the pumpkin is pureed.

6. Cut a length of cheesecloth big enough to create a pouch, making sure you have several thicknesses layered on top of one another. Place square of cheesecloth over a colander and spoon some of the pumpkin into the middle.

7. Gather cheesecloth up over pumpkin puree and make a little sack with your hands. Use your hands to massage and squeeze as much water as you can out of the pumpkin without squeezing flesh out the holes in the cheesecloth. This may take a while.

8. Put now-dry pumpkin puree into a different bowl.

9. Repeat steps 8 and 9 until all pumpkin has been dehydrated. (If you aren't in a hurry, you can spread all the pumpkin over cheesecloth in a colander in the sink and let it sit for several hours so the water runs out. I am not that patient.)

10. Voila! You now have at least one pumpkin pie's worth of fresh pumpkin mush. You can rinse out and reuse the cheesecloth for another project. It will dry in a short amount of time and be only slightly orange.

Coming soon: making pumpkin pie from scratch.

(All photos by Dan except the one of the pumpkin seeds, which I took.)

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