All things PUMPKIN begin with this...
It's that time of year again. Fall is in the air. Well, sorta.
I'm a Central Floridian now, so Fall is an elusive relic of my Midwestern past. Nevertheless, there are so many transplants down here in Florida (we welcome one and all) that things get a little goofy in October. Scarecrows and corn stalks go up in folks' yards. Fake leaves in burnished orange, gold, and red decorate our doorways and interior spaces. We pretend. We bring out the long pants. We anticipate the crispness in the air (that really only comes if you get up before dawn in January). Ahhh ... even if we can't have the colors, smells, and feels of Autumn we can, and do, embrace all things pumpkin.
Florida gardeners grow pie pumpkins. Unfortunately, they only last a few weeks at most on the countertop. If you want a local pumpkin for your November pies (as in, for Thanksgiving), and you live in Florida, you need to buy them now (in October). Then you prepare them and store them until it is time. Which brings me to the point of my blog today .... drumroll ... how to do just that.
Start with one of the little, sweet, pie pumpkins found in the produce section (they are about 6" in diameter). Remove the stem (cutting it off, if it doesn't pop off easily), then halve the pumpkin from top to bottom. Next remove the "guts" -- the stringy bit with all the seeds. For whatever reason, I find this is best accomplished using a soup spoon to scrape them out. Place both halves cut side down on a baking tray and prick the exposed skins with a fork.
Roast the pumpkin in a 375 degree oven for 40-50 minutes (depending on the size of your pumpkin). As soon as you remove the tray from the oven, use tongs to flip the pumpkin halves over exposing the flesh. It should be nice and soft. Let them cool to room temperature, then scrape all the cooked flesh out of the pumpkin shell and into a food processor.
Now simply purée until smooth, scraping down the sides once in awhile. Do not add any water. Measure out the purée into freezer containers. I use 2 cups for a pie. I freeze the purée in 2 cup and 1 cup portions, as sometimes I don't need the whole 2 cups.
Super simple, really, and the results are so satisfying. PUMPKIN!