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!