Monday, November 21, 2011

Pumpkin Butchering 101

we grew pumpkins in our garden this year

this was the biggest one -- it weighed 10 pounds 8 ounces

the whole point of growing these was to make them into pies!

to get from here to pie, there is some work involved

and here are the step by step instructions

Step 1:

turn on the oven to 350 degrees

cover a jelly roll pan with parchment paper

don't try to do this on a pan that isn't at least an inch deep because there will be a lot of liquid that comes out as it cooks

the parchment paper isn't absolutely required, but it does make the clean up a lot easier

Step 2:

remove the stem of the pumpkin -- this is usually as easy as just hitting it from the side with your hand -- it should just pop loose from the top of the pumpkin

lay the pumpkin on its side and using a large sharp knife, cut it in half crosswise

this pumpkin was so thick that we couldn't just push the knife through with our hands -- we used a hammer on the back of the blade to push the knife through -- just keep tapping around the center of the pumpkin until the knife goes all the way through

this was probably one of the thickest walled pumpkins we have ever encountered!

no wonder we couldn't push the knife through the side

(and its a good thing we didn't try to make this one into a jack-o-lantern -- it would have been a really hard one to carve!)

Step 3:

clean all of the seeds and the stringy stuff out of the inside of the pumpkin

we used a large serving spoon first, then after most of the stuff had been removed, I used the sharp edge of a grapefruit spoon to do the fine cleaning of the inside

the center cavity should look like this when you get it all cleaned out

Step 4:

place the two halves of the pumpkin cut side down on the prepared baking sheet

if you are going smaller pumpkins than this, you can probably do two on a jelly roll pan

put the pan in the oven

to do 2 small pumpkins it will take about an hour

a larger pumpkin will take about 90 minutes

this one cooked for a little over 2 hours

test the doneness of the pumpkin by pressing your finger into the side

if it springs back, it's not done yet

the pumpkin is ready when the finger mark stays in the side like this

when the pumpkin is done, take the pan out of the oven and set it on a heatproof or heat protected surface (we set the pan on a thick layer of towels on the kitchen counter)

let it cool until you can handle it comfortably

Step 5:

line a large colander with a clean dish towel (not terry)

using a small sharp paring knife, peel the skin off of the pumpkin and put the "meat" into the towel lined colander

when all the pumpkin has been put into the towel, gather up the top of the towel and twist it tightly to squeeze the liquid out of the pumpkin

put the twisted towel back into the colander, set a plate on top of it and put something heavy on top (I used a gallon jug of vinegar that was about 2/3 full, but several cans of black beans or other veggies will work just fine)

be sure to put something absorbent under the colander and contain the whole set up -- I used the same jelly roll pan with an old bath towel folded up inside

let this whole set up rest for at least an hour

Step 6:

remove the weight and the plate and open up the towel

pack your prepared pumpkin in the desired size containers (I used quart zip top bags) and remember to label with what the contents are, how much is in the container and a date

these can then be frozen or just refrigerated if you're going to use it within a few days

these two bags will get turned into pies on Wednesday

need a good pie recipe to use this in? try this one