What’s Thanksgiving and Christmas without the quintessential pumpkin pie? Recently, I’ve been following stories in the York Daily Record about the shortage of canned pumpkin in our local grocery stores and I was worried. My husband and mother-in-law would never forgive me if we didn’t have pumpkin pie for the holidays. So, I set out on a mission: figuring out how to puree an actual pumpkin.
I started by calling my girlfriend, Jen. She has been pureeing her own pumpkins for years. Her recommendation: a neck pumpkin. They are the pumpkins that look like Butternut Squash, only on steroids. According to Jen, neck pumpkins yield, “a sweeter puree for a better pumpkin taste therefore, a better pie.” They are also much easier to breakdown and have less seeds and pulp.
I loaded up my son, William, and off we went to Raab Fruit Farms near Dallastown. I was able to get an eight pound neck pumpkin for only $2.25. By neck pumpkin standards, I chose a moderately sized pumpkin.
Of course with William in-tow, I also ended up getting ten lbs of assorted apples, a chocolate and peanut butter whoopie pie, and a mini-pumpkin for decoration. Looks I’ll be making applesauce this week also.
Breaking down the pumpkin took surprisingly little time about twenty minutes start to finish. First, I cut the pumpkin into five sections. The largest section contained the seeds and pulp. Cutting off the bottom of the pumpkin, I used a spoon to remove about one cup worth of the slimy seeds and pulp. I removed the seeds from the pulp and saved them for later. Roasted pumpkin seeds equals yummy goodness.
My next step was to remove the thin layer of skin covering the neck pumpkin using a vegetable peeler. This was the most labor intensive part of the entire process. I then cut the pumpkin into cubes and placed them in a stock pot and covered the pumpkin with water. I researched several ways to soften the pumpkin. You can boil it, steam it or roast it. As I happened to be cleaning my oven, I chose to boil the pumpkin much like boiling potatoes for mashed potatoes.
Once the pumpkin was softened, I drained the water into a container and let the pumpkin cool for about ten minutes. I then placed the pumpkin into a blender. A food processor would also work, I happen to prefer the blender. After about 30 seconds on the puree button and about 1/2 cup of the reserved pumpkin water, I had about six cups worth of pumpkin puree. I let the puree cool completely and placed it in six freezer containers. One cup for each container.
Five minute drive to the farm market, sixty minutes of work and $2.25 for the pumpkin — not bad for a days work. I don’t have to fight to get canned pumpkin from the grocery store for my pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin roll, pumpkin cake, pumpkin cookies and pumpkin soup.
Now, I just have figure out what I’m going to do with ten pounds of apples.