Do you have any pumpkins around? Maybe I should have mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, when the pumpkins where still in the grocery stores … they always seem to be gone right after October 31st.
You can make lots of things with pumpkin: Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Cake or Muffins, Pumpkin Log, Pumpkin Bars …
… Pumpkin Casserole (my brother Tommy can make a scrumptious one) …
… add pumpkin to Cinnamon Rolls to make them soft and fluffier, or you could be like Hannah and make a Pumpkin Spice Latte. I have also heard you can use pumpkin puree in place of shortening. I have not played around with this a whole lot, but have substituted it half and half with butter or oil a time or two.
Several years ago, we started buying whole pumpkins and freezing them in small amounts! I highly recommend you trying this but, just so you know, it does end up taking a few hours altogether (chopping, peeling, cooking, cooking and cooking some more, cooling, blending, etc.). In the long run though, if you cook one (or several) big pumpkins, they will last a long time and save money. Plus, the processing can easily be split between different intervals, as you have time.
~ Remember, you are doing this for your Father in Heaven and your family and friends on earth. Work with a purpose and make each moment a good one! ~
#1. Put a smile on your face!
#2. Select pumpkin. I prefer using large pumpkins like the ones above (the one on the right was grown by an 11 year old girl and it was over 20 inches from top to bottom!). This year, I bought the last pumpkin out of the Kroger box. It was a small one (probably 8 inches tall) and I only got 5 cups of puree … not a good size batch. If you are going freeze pumpkin, I highly recommend doing a large pumpkin to make it worth the time.
#3. Wash the pumpkin.
#4. Cut and cook. Personally I think steaming is slightly easier, but it also seems to have more liquid in the final product.
To Bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. I will cut the pumpkin anywhere from quarters to small strips (about 1-2 inches wide and 4-6 inches long). That way I can easily pick up a piece and scoop the pumpkin out. Place chunks of pumpkin in a casserole dish and cover with foil. Bake until soft, about 1 hour or so. Sticking a fork or knife through it is a good way to test it. Once cooled, peel off the outer shell. Squeeze the flesh and place it in a colander, stirring occasionally to let the extra liquid out.
To Steam: Cut pumpkin into small chunks (1-2 inches by 2-3 inches or so). Peel off the outer shell. Place in a steamer pot. Bring water to a boil, then simmer until the flesh is soft. Sticking a fork or knife through it is a good way to test it. Cool pumpkin.
#5. Puree. Place the chunks of pumpkin in a blender and puree until VERY smooth.
#6. Pour and seal pumpkin in bags. The pumpkin recipes that we make usually call for 2 cups of pumpkin, but freeze it in whatever amounts work for you.
I have often wanted to use pumpkin in recipes in place of shortening, but never want to thaw a 2 or 4 cup bag of pumpkin to use 1/4 or 1/2 a cup. Recently I spooned the puree into ice trays (which held 2 tablespoons each) and froze the pumpkin that way. Now I can easily thaw just the amount I want … why did I not think of this a long time ago?!
#7. Freeze. Lay bags of pumpkin on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer. Once solid, take off the cookie sheet and store until ready to make something yummy.
If you think ahead, take out and place in a bowl on the counter until thawed. If you need it fast, run warm water over the bag until thawed.
Have fun and be blessed ~ Ruthie