Early Spring Sunrise Snow on the Silo

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Great Pumpkin Crop Failure of 2009

Recently there has been a great moaning, wailing and gnashing of teeth on the interwebz as bakers, trying to satisfy their craving for fall favorites like pumpkin bars, muffins, bread and (my personal favorite) pumpkin cheesecake, are finding store shelves devoid of canned pumpkin due to last seasons crop failure. Well, never fear, this seasons pumpkins are in fine shape and the canned stuff will be arriving in store in plenty of time to put pies on the holiday table. In the mean time, if you just can't wait, it is very simple to make your own pumpkin puree to use in you favorite recipes.First, you need to select your pumpkins, and while a big carving pumpkin may seem like a great deal and give you plenty of pumpkin, they are really not your best choice. Carvers are grown for size and shape so they tend to be bland and stringy, save those for fall decorations and creating jack-o-lanterns. Smaller pie pumpkins are developed for flavor and texture so they work best for eating. Select small fruits with completely dry stems still attached for best results.
Use a large chefs knife to cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
The flesh can be cooked in a number of ways, the halves can be placed cut size down on a baking tray and roasted until soft in a 325 degree oven or they can be wrapped in foil and roasted on the grill. My favorite, and most frugal, way is to steam them in my turbo cooker or dutch oven on top of the wood stove. Then the pulp can be scooped out and pureed with a blender, food processor or immersion blender and used in place of canned puree. Butternut and other orange fleshed squash can be used in place of part or all of the pumpkin in most recipes if you have trouble finding pie pumpkins. This method can also be used to make a yummy side dish of mashed squash, I like to add butter and a touch of brown sugar for a nice accompaniment to pork. Divide the pumpkin into freezer bags or containers in 2 cup measures, since that is the most common amount called for in recipes, and freeze. Puree can also be pressure canned in pints, quarts are not recommended due to the density of the pumpkin or squash.Home made pumpkin puree is fast, easy and delicious! No need to ever buy canned again and since
pumpkins and squash are really easy to grow, plan to plant some in next years garden.

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