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How To Cook a Fresh Pumpkin

Sat Nov 06, 2010 4:30 pm
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Comments: 16 Views: 53081

This year we were determined to not use canned pumpkin for any of our pumpkin dishes. Instead, we wanted to cook a fresh pumpkin from scratch. As we were debating the various cookingpumpkin methods one could use, including boiling, steaming and roasting we decided to use the roasting method. It made more sense, since we were looking to concentrate the flavor of the pumpkin and draw out as much water as possible. If we would boil it, or steam it, it seems like you would more likely add instead of remove liquid…

When you buy a pumpkin with the intention to cook it, it’s a good idea to choose one of a smaller size. We bought both a large pumpkin as well as a small one, and the large pumpkin was difficult to cut as well as quite tasteless. The color difference was also great: while the large pumpkin had a pale color and very little aroma, the smaller pumpkin was much more orange and had a much more potent aroma. We also believe that the large pumpkin had a much higher water content.

To cut the pumpkin, first remove the top part with a large cleaver, then cut it into smaller pieces and remove the seeds.

pumpkin
cut_pumpkin

pumpkin

Two pumpkins and two cooking methods:

Pumpkin # 1:

We started off with cutting and cooking the larger pumpkin. We peeled the larger pumpkin before we cooked it, and roasted it in a 250 degree oven for about an hour and a half. When it came it out of the oven, it had released a lot of liquid, but still looked quite watery.

pumpkin pumpkin_mash

pumpkin_cheese_cloth

We processed the pumpkin in batches in the food processor. However, the mass was very watery. So in order to concentrate the flavor, we strained the pumpkin mash in a cheese cloth and it released a lot of water – about 4 cups.

Pumpkin #2:
When we cooked the smaller pumpkin we took a different approach. First, we decided to leave the peel on and remove it once the pumpkin was cooked, in order to draw more pumpkin flavor. Then we roasted the pumpkin in a 350 degree oven for about two hours. When it came out of the oven, it was much drier and had released some liquid, however it looked more like a dark syrup than water.

pumpkin roasted_pumpkin

pumpkin_mash

At this point we separated the pumpkin from the peel with a spoon and mashed the “meat” in the food processor. This time the mass was not watery at all and it demanded no straining.

Conclusion:
Definitely use a smaller pumpkin. We found that method number two produced a very good result, while method number one was just passable. It's difficult to tell how much leaving the peel on affected the flavor. However, it’s much easier to leave it on, and it’s likely that it boosted the pumpkin flavor somehow.

Don’t roast your pumpkin in an oven on too low a temperature. We found that cooking the pumpkin in a hotter oven for a longer period of time produced a better consistency as well as flavor.

With the large pumpkin we made pumpkin soup as well as pumpkin pie, and with the smaller pumpkin we made pumpkin butter. We also utilized the pumpkin seeds and made a tasty snack.

To roast your own pumpkin is quite easy, it simply demands some of your time. So why not cook your own pumpkin? It’s so much more satisfying to work with your food from beginning to end starting with a bright orange pumpkin that turns into a golden pie or a spicy soup.



Comments
Tue Oct 28, 2008 3:15 pmFrom An Email To The Culinary Review:
" I read an article by whereby two cooking methods were used. How do you peel the pumpkin or what time of knife/device do you suggest. In the second cooking test it is unclear whether the whole pumpkin is cooked (seeds, membrane, etc.) versus cleaning out the entire pumpkin. In using this baking method would parchment paper be useful? With me being a 1st time site user and 1st time pumpkin cooker I have lots to learn."

In the first test we peeled the pumpkin with a knife, then cubed and roasted it, and in both tests we removed the seeds and cleaned away any membrane.

Sat Nov 08, 2008 6:33 pm
Name: cooking helper | Comment: just use a normal knife that's real sharp

Mon Nov 24, 2008 12:27 pm
Name: Richelle | Comment: How did your pie and soup turn out with the large pumpkin? I normally use small pumpkins for cooking, but I have a very large one that we intended for a jack o'lantern but never carved. I would like to cook it simply so it won't rot and go to waste. Is it worth the effort, as long as I already have it?

Mon Nov 24, 2008 12:34 pmSince you have the pumpkin to use, you should definitely cook it. Part of the problem with our method in using the large pumpkin was that we did not cook it the same way as with the smaller pumpkin.

Try it this way: (from text above)

"First, we decided to leave the peel on and remove it once the pumpkin was cooked, in order to draw more pumpkin flavor. Then we roasted the pumpkin in a 350 degree oven for about two hours. When it came out of the oven, it was much drier and had released some liquid, however it looked more like a dark syrup than water."

If the flavor is not strong enough you can always add more spice to it.
We also ended up making pumpkin butter, which came out great. It really concentrates the flavor. Then you can use it in scones or muffins.

Mon Nov 24, 2008 11:05 pm
Name: PeterPeter | Comment: I steamed the pumpkin and scooped the meat out with a large spoon. As it sat, the water collected in the bowl and I poured that off. Then I blended it into a puree. Works quite well also, no straining was necessary. It kept the whole thing moist.

Mon Nov 24, 2008 11:06 pm
Name: PeterPeter | Comment: Forgot to mention, I cut the pumpkin up first before steaming it.

Thu Oct 01, 2009 7:26 am
Name: Lynn | Comment: I know this is an older thread, but would you mind sharing your recipe for pumpkin butter? Thanks! lmbh721@yahoo.com

Sat Oct 17, 2009 9:07 pm
Name: Laura | Comment: I have cut and steamed a pie pumpkin as well. Then I scraped off the meat and put it in the food processor. It didn't seem to be too watery, and it made a couple of great pumpkin pies!

Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:07 am
Name: Michele | Comment: I have a medium size pumpkin and a autumn couleur can these both be cooked and used for cooking.

Sun Nov 22, 2009 1:03 pm
Name: Dorsey Cuteness | Comment: Thankx very much it helps alot wwhen you are unsure of what yo are doing!

Mon Nov 23, 2009 1:56 pm
Name: Tammy | Comment: The best way I have found to roast a pumpkin is to clean the out side(skin) cut a hole in the top and scoop out all the seeds etc.Then turn your pumpkin up side down in a baking dish add just a little water on the bottom of the dish,roast on 350 for 2 hours or longer depending on the size..Then scoop out the meat.No more peeling of the skin and getting cut...Turn's out beautiful

Wed Nov 25, 2009 10:56 am
Name: jane | Comment: Thanks to all....I have the non-jackolantern in the oven roasting now...anyone have a good recipe for pumpkin bread made with oil instead of shorting or butter

Thu Dec 10, 2009 7:29 pm
Name: Be a Local | Comment: Thanks for sharing this recipe and your tricks. I have added your link to my photos of pumpkins in my flickr www.flickr.com/photos/bealocal/4075926489 so my contact know how to cook them and discover your good blog!

Thu Aug 26, 2010 2:43 pm
Name: | Comment: Making pumpkin puree is so easy I can't believe that anyone still buys it in the can!! Please check out my video on how to make and freeze pumpkin puree, thanks!!
www.youtube.com/watch?v=56fLim0qYiU

Fri Nov 05, 2010 1:23 am
Name: sandy blue | Comment: i would think that cooking the pumpkin with the peel on would produce more flavor. most fruits and vegetables have a lot of flavor as well as nutrients in the peel

Sat Nov 06, 2010 4:30 pm
Name: ANNE | Comment: THIS IS MY FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH ROASTING PUMPKIN AND WHAT A BREEZE NOW I CAN MAKE MY SON HIS HOMEMADE PUMPKIN BARS .LOVE YA KID.

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