Sure, you can carve your pumpkin this October and have a glowing creation on your porch, but doesn’t freshly baked pumpkin bread, bars, pie, muffins & cookies from a pumpkin you picked and baked sound fantastic?
If you were like me, you grew some pumpkins in your garden. This year our garden yielded 6 pumpkins, one of which my children wanted to give to the neighbor girl for her first Halloween. That left us with 5 pumpkins that we will bake and process into a puree and enjoy in several baked goods.
For the best puree, you want to pick a pumpkin that is best suited to baking. I suggest buying one with the “Sugar” or “Pie” in the name of the variety. They are usually under 6 pounds. You can use a bigger pumpkin that you would normally carve, but the baking time will be longer, the pulp may be stringier, it may have a lighter color and have a milder taste. I have used and baked a carving pumpkin and it will yield you a lot of pumpkin puree.
- Slice the pumpkin in half, discarding the stem.
- Place it with the center facing the bottom of a 9×13 pan.
- Be sure to put about 1/4″ of water in the bottom of the pan, this will help it from drying out.
- If you are lucky, your pumpkin will perfectly fit both sides in one pan. If not, then you will just have to use a second pan.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.
In this picture you can see how I placed the pumpkins in the pan. I also rinsed the seeds and discarded the stringy stuff to the compost bin, and placed some seeds out on freezer paper to dry to be used for next year’s garden. Make sure your seeds are completely dry before storing them, otherwise they could mold and be useless.
Let your pumpkins cool. Next you can peel away the rind of the pumpkin or scoop it out. Place the pulp in a food processor and process until smooth. This pumpkin that I used weighed 4 pounds and yielded me 4 cups of pureed pumpkin. I used 2 cups of puree to make a very delicious loaf of Perfect Pumpkin Bread from Hungry Girl.
The other 2 cups I put in a freezer safe container and have frozen it for use later this winter. I will do the same thing with my other 4 pumpkins (don’t worry, my kids do get to carve a pumpkin but I will buy them a large one that is perfect for carving.)
I did check out canned pumpkin prices in the grocery store and by growing, baking & processing this pumpkin myself I saved myself the cost of 2 cans of organic pumpkin, which costs $3.29 each. All my pumpkins are roughly the same size, so I should expect to yield another 16 cups of pumpkin puree. My grand total savings on my grocery bill by making my own organic pumpkin puree is approximately $33, plus we were able to give a pumpkin away.
But that’s not all! I also roasted the pumpkin seeds to serve as a snack (and saved a dozen seeds to dry and plant next year and share with friends) and I put the leftover pumpkin skin and stem in the compost, to turn into that black gold. Every bit of the pumpkin was used.
If you end up just carving a pumpkin for Halloween, try to roast the seeds (and save some to plant next year!) My favorite recipe is for sugar and spice roasted pumpkin seeds,, but this spicy pumpkin seeds recipe is pretty good, too.
Please remember to compost that carved pumpkin when it has finished serving it’s purpose.