Making Pumpkin Meat or How to Cook a Pumpkin

Baked Pumpkin

It is very easy to make your own pumpkin meat to use in baking recipes.  By cooking your own pumpkin, you get the added bonus of pumpkin seeds to roast, and pumpkin juice/water to use as cooking stock!

Not all pumpkins are good for eating however, and most “jack-o-lanterns” make good pumpkin meat.  Some of the best varieties to use are Long Island Cheese, Baby Pam, Jarrahdale, Fairy Tale, Cinderella, and Hubbard squash.  They have lots of meat, and not too much stringy flesh.

Hubby wanted to make a pumpkin pie, and wanted to try it with his own pumpkin meat, so we started with a Long Island Cheese pumpkin.

First step, wash all the dirt off.

Wash Pumpkin

Wash Pumpkin

Next, cut the pumpkin in half.

Cut Pumpkin in half

Cut Pumpkin in half

Remove the seeds and stringy pulp.

Scoop out seeds

Scoop out seeds

Seedless Pumpkin

Seedless Pumpkin

We wanted to make roasted pumpkin seeds, so we set them aside for now.  (I’ll get back to them later in the post).

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin Seeds

Place the two halves of the pumpkin face down in a pan with sides. It can be a large baking sheet with short sides, but we used a baking dish.  Whatever you use, it does need to have sides to it because the pumpkin will give off a lot of water.

Place Pumpkin in Pan

Place Pumpkin in Pan

Bake in the oven for an hour and ten minutes (give or take half an hour depending on the size of the pumpkin) at 350 degrees.  It’s hard to overcook a pumpkin- basically you can cook it as long as it doesn’t burn.  You will know it’s done when a fork easily goes through the skin.  (See all the water in the pan?)

Baked Pumpkin

Baked Pumpkin

Next, you want to separate the flesh from the skin.  It will come apart pretty easily at this point.

Separate pumpkin flesh from skin

Separate pumpkin flesh from skin

For the next step, you will either need a food grinder or a food processor.  Anything that can evenly mash up your pumpkin meat.  We used a food processor, and stopped it halfway through to mix it up to make sure everything was mashed up.

Grind pumpkin flesh

Grind pumpkin flesh

The next step is to drain the pumpkin meat.  If you bake the pumpkin last thing at night, you can let it sit out overnight and it should be ready to go in the morning.

The easiest thing to do is lightly dampen some coffee filters and place in your food drainer.  Cheesecloth works well too.  You need something though, otherwise the pumpkin will just move through the holes!  If you place the drainer over a bowl, you can collect the juices to use as a stock base for soup.

Strain Pumpkin Flesh overnight

Strain Pumpkin Flesh overnight

You will want to drain your pumpkin meat because otherwise it will make any of your baked goods runny.  It won’t work as well.  So, drain it well and then just bake with it as you please!

Wash and drain pumpkin seeds

Wash and drain pumpkin seeds

Now for the pumpkin seeds!  Rinse and drain your pumpkin seeds well. Get rid of the bits of flesh.

Next, place the seeds out to dry on a paper towel (we used a newspaper) for several hours.

Dry pumpkin seeds

Dry pumpkin seeds

And finally, place on a baking sheet, season, and roast for about fifteen minutes.

Yum yum and enjoy your pumpkin goods!

 

 

 

An Heirloom Pumpkin Primer

Ghost Rider Pumpkin

Growing up, every year we would take a trip to Yeager’s Farm and ride the hay wagon to the pumpkin patch, and pick out a pumpkin.  There was typically only one variety to choose from (that I remember).  But it wasn’t just there, anywhere you went, choices were limited to the typical round, orange pumpkin.  The only choices you had were between how long or short you wanted the stem, and if you wanted a short, round squashed looking pumpkin, or something more oblong, tall and skinny.

Pumpkins

Pumpkins

That all changed a few years ago when I stumbled across the pumpkin selection at a small, family run farm in Virginia.  I talk about them a lot, but only because we love them, and want them to have a great business.  Miller Farms Market.

I was blown away by the variety.  So many colors, shapes, sizes, and crazy things!  I am actually hoping to interview Jo at the farm, and put together something more substantial than one blog post about pumpkins.  Namely, I want to show you what options there are.  Check with your local farmers or grow your own!

First up, the Cinderella Pumpkin.

Cinderella Pumpkin

Cinderella Pumpkin

These are large, fun pumpkins that are a french heirloom variety.  Supposedly, the pilgrims planted and used these in the First Thanksgiving.  Also, they are delicious.  Nearly all the pumpkins they grow here are also great to use in recipes!

The Fairytale Pumpkin

Fairytale Pumpkin

Fairytale Pumpkin

Fairytale pumpkins are actually shaped very similarly to the Cinderella pumpkins, but are mostly green with some yellow variations.  They are nice and wide, and sort of flat on top, great for stacking.

Pumpkins on a bench display at Miller Farms.

Pumpkins on a bench display at Miller Farms.

The Ghost Rider Pumpkin

Ghost Rider Pumpkin

Ghost Rider Pumpkin

I may actually be wrong about the identity of this pumpkin, I need to check with the Millers.  But these are more like the typical carving pumpkins you see everywhere.  However, all of these seem to be the perfect size and shape, and have those wonderfully dark handles.

The Blue Hubbard

Blue Hubbard

Blue Hubbard

Blue Hubbard is actually a squash, and is an old tradition in New England.  I used mine a few years ago to make an alien head- they are shaped quite nicely!

Alien Pumpkin Head

Alien Pumpkin Head

Orange Hubbard

Orange Hubbard

Orange Hubbard

The Miller’s are growing these for the first time this year, and are supposed to be another delicious squash.

Jarrahdale Pumpkins

Jarrahdale

Jarrahdale

These pumpkins have a wonderful light greenish-gray color.  They are deeply ribbed and really great for cooking.

Long Island Cheese

Long Island Cheese

Long Island Cheese

The Long Island Cheese pumpkin is so named for it’s shape, size, and color.  It looks like a giant wheel of buttery cheese.  These are great to use in pumpkin pies, and we just bought one to make a pie from scratch!

Lumina

Lumina

Lumina

The Lumina pumpkin is a very pretty, white pumpkin that is also very tasty.  These look great carved, with a bright orange flesh inside.

Little Pumpkins

Pumpkemon, Baby Boo, and Munchkin

Pumpkemon, Baby Boo, and Munchkin

There are three varieties pictured here, Pumpkemon is the larger, green and white gourd.  The small white pumpkin is a Baby Boo.  The smallest is a Munchkin, but they also can grow to the same size as the others.  I brought these three little guys home with me.  They are so cute!

Display Shelves at Miller Farms Market

Display Shelves at Miller Farms Market

They have so many other fun decorative, harvest elements at Miller Farms.  Dried corn stalks, indian corn, grapevines, Osage oranges, and all sorts of gourds.  We went there today for the Taste of the Farm event.  Local farmers, crafters, bakers, cheese makers, creameries, and more were there to hand out tons of yummy free samples.  Jo Miller also demonstrated how to cook and prepare a pumpkin to use the flesh in recipes.

Indian Corn

Indian Corn

This place is really neat to visit.  All the pictures (except the carved alien head and mini-pumpkins) were taken at Miller Farms by me.  I am not sponsored or anything by them, I just want them to succeed so that I can keep going back to buy fresh milk, fresh vegetables, and fun gifts.

Raised garden beds at Miller Farms

Raised garden beds at Miller Farms

Support your local farms and communities!