Happy Halloween! I know several of you are carving pumpkins today, tomorrow I’ll show you Eric’s and my amazing pumpkin carving job. It’s awesome! Maybe you’ve noticed that grocery stores are dropping the price of their pumpkins starting today. We got a giant pumpkin for free from our CSA, but I also bought some smaller ones to use in the kitchen. Did you know that you can use every part of the pumpkin? If you want to make your own pumpkin puree, the small sugar pumpkins work best, but this year I even used a small carving pumpkin and found it still tasted pretty good in my pumpkin bars.
If you want to cook a whole pumpkin, cut the pumpkin in half. I set it on its side and stab a large knife into it. I work the knife around through the side, then the base of the pumpkin and up the other side. Go back to the original side and work from the cut up to the stem. Pull the pumpkin apart into two halves. Now you have two pumpkin parts to be scooped from inside the pumpkin, one is seeds, and the other is guts. That’s right pumpkin guts.
I have to confess that I love playing with the pumpkin guts, they’re slimy and squishy and just feel good between my fingers. Last year I first made pumpkin gut bread with the guts from our jack o’ lantern. Now I always ask people for their pumpkin guts, partly in an effort to reduce waste, and partly because I love making the bread! Whether you’re taking this out of the top of a pumpkin you’re carving, or from a pumpkin you’ve cut in half to roast, it’s easiest to have two bowls and separate the seeds and guts into them as you go.
The third part of the pumpkin you can use is the flesh, this is the part that makes puree like you can buy (highly processed) in a can. Once you’ve scooped all the seeds and guts from the pumpkin halves, place the halves cut side down in a pan. If you have a smaller pumpkin you may be able to use one pan. Pour some water 1/4 high in the pan (about1 cup). Place them in an oven preheated to 350 degrees and roast the pumpkin for 45-60 minutes (for a large pumpkin). It’s done when you can easily pierce it with a fork.
Fresh pumpkin is much more fibrous then the highly processed pumpkin in a can, so you need to put it through a food processor before you can bake with it. Simply puree it until it’s smooth and liquidy without any chunks (is liquidy a word?). Next you want to strain it to drain off the excess water. I just put a paper towel in a colander and dump the puree in. Let it drain over a bowl in the fridge for a couple hours. Then you can use it in any recipe that uses canned pumpkin. I like to freeze mine in ziploc bags in one to two cup portions to make it easy to thaw the right amount (make sure you label it!).
Need some recipes to use your puree in? How about Pumpkin Crunch Bars, Gingerbread Pumpkin Trifle, or a Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting? I’ll have a twist on your basic roasted pumpkin seeds in my next post. For now, here’s my famous pumpkin gut bread. I sometimes try to be healthier by cutting the sugar down to two cups, it’s still good, but it’s killer with all three cups. I call this bread famous because last year I brought it to several parties and everyone begged for the recipe, especially when they found out I made it with pumpkin guts. This is the world’s best pumpkin bread recipe!
Diana’s Famous Pumpkin Gut Breadmakes 2 loaves
2 cups of fresh pumpkin guts (the stringy part separated from the seeds)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. nutmeg
3 cups sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup water
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 F. Use your fingers and a pair of scissors to separate the pumpkin guts, making sure they’ll be able to mix well into the batter.
Combine flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar in large mixing bowl. Add eggs, water, oil and pumpkin. Stir until blended. Add nuts. Mix well. Pour into two 9×5″ loaf pans. Bake 1 hour. Cool slightly and take out of pans to let cool on a rack.
Approximate cost/serving: This bread is pretty affordable, especially if you buy your flour and sugar in bulk like I do. Two loaves cost me around $2 to make, and I slice each one into 10 pieces. So it comes out to only 10 cents a slice!
Vegetarian: This does have eggs, but it’s meatless!