Don’t let that jack-o’-lantern rot! A very small pumpkin, say 8-10 inch diameter, will produce 8-10 cups flesh: fresh pumpkin that can become pie, bread, cookies or a dozen other delicacies for the season.
When you carve the pumpkin, save the seeds for tasty eating. Wash and remove as much of the fiber as possible, but it’s easy to crumble off after the seeds are cooked. Spread seeds to dry on a towel. Bring to boil several quarts of water with 2 tablespoons salt added. Add pumpkin seeds; boil 10 minutes. Cool. Spread on a baking sheet. Pour over a mixture of butter, flavored oil (we like chile oil), soy sauce. Taste and see what flavorings you prefer. Bake in 300-degree oven for a half hour or so, stirring often to be sure they don’t burn.
When you’re ready to turn that carved pumpkin into food, first cut away any parts singed by the candle and scoop out any wax.
Put a steamer rack or pan lid in the bottom of a large pot– something to hold the pumpkin out of the water. Add only ½ inch or so of water– the pumpkin should not be touching liquid or it will absorb it like a sponge.
Cut the pumpkin into several pieces and place them in the pot. Steam on low heat until you can prick the flesh with a fork and it’s soft enough to mash.
When the flesh is tender, let cool. Then peel inside and out; the stringy lining scrapes right off. Compost the peels if you don’t have grateful chickens.
Mash the flesh with a potato masher and measure. Store in two-cup batches in plastic containers and it’s ready to use for pumpkin pie, bread, or to freeze until Thanksgiving.
Look for varied recipes: I have a delicious pie recipe from New Mexico that includes cayenne powder and another for a cooked filling (www.cookscountry.com) smoother than most pies and lasts longer in the refrigerator– though that may not be an issue.
I’ve also successfully dried sliced pumpkin in my food dryer; (see www.dryit.com for plans or to buy a completed dryer). Slice the raw pumpkin in thin slices, steam and then dry; the pumpkin keeps for months, years. To reconstitute it, place the slices in a bowl of milk in the refrigerator; they make delicious pie.
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