Pie pumpkins and buttercup squash–two of my favorites in the same week! And the possibilities on what to do with them are endless. For those of you who may not be familiar with the technique of cooking a pumpkin, I’d like to give you some basic tips. I’ve tried several different ways over the years, and I’ve narrowed them down to what I feel is the simplest method. Cooked pureed pumpkin freezes well, so if you do not plan on using it right away, keep that in mind. Have some sturdy good quality zip-lock sandwich bags ready and here’s how to do it:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Split pie pumpkins in half vertically. Scoop out all the seeds and membranes. (Save seeds if you’d like to toast them later.)
4. Place pumpkin halves cut side down on the baking sheet. Poke flesh in several places with a fork.
5. Roast in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Fork should go in and come out easily. Make sure the pumpkin flesh is tender all the way to the edges.
6. Remove from oven, turn pumpkins over, and let cool until you can easily handle them. Scoop out the flesh, all the way to the skin, which is thin.
7. Transfer to a food processor and process (in batches, if necessary) until fibers are broken down and puree is very smooth. (Note: If you do not have a food processor on hand, the pumpkin flesh can also be
mashed with a potato masher–it just takes a little longer.)
8. Line a fine mesh strainer or colander with a double layer of cheesecloth and set over a large bowl. Let the pumpkin puree sit for a couple of hours to drain and thicken.
The pumpkin puree is now ready to use in your recipes or it can be frozen to be used later. I have found it easiest to freeze in one cup portions. Simply measure one cup into each zip-lock bag, remove excess air, and seal. Freeze flat in a single layer and when frozen solid, bags can easily be stacked. Remember to label and date each one.
When using fresh or frozen pumpkin puree in your recipes, I believe you’ll notice the difference in flavor compared to canned pumpkin. The sweet fresh taste of the pumpkin really comes through.
The Squash Pie in this week’s Recipe Section is a long-time favorite of the Pahl family. The buttercup squash included in your share is perfect in this recipe. To drain the cooked mashed squash, I would suggest following the same technique used for the cooked pumpkin.
The farmers tell me this will be the last picking of green bell peppers and poblanos, so we need to make the most of them. Combine cooked chopped peppers with the Chicken Fajita meat from Von Hanson’s, place in a soft shell taco, add some grated cheese, and you’ll have a quick lunch or dinner. To the former ingredients, add scrambled eggs or chopped hard cooked egg, cubed cooked potato, roll everything in the soft shell taco, and you’ll have a breakfast burrito.
I think we’re all hoping to see the sun anytime now, and especially for our Harvest Event, the pumpkin pick this coming weekend. We would love to see you there!