Wednesday, October 14, 2009

How to: Roast a Pumpkin

Right now, pumpkins are as abundant as apples. They come in all different sizes and can be round or oblong in shape. Pumpkin is really nothing more then a squash such as butternut or acorn and can be used not only for sweet dishes but for savory as well. There is two main types of pumpkin that most people are farmilar with and that is the jack-o-lantern variety and sugar pumpkins. While either can be used in pumpkin dishes, it the sugar pumpkins that have the most pumpkin flavor and should be used in cooking. However by adding in some butternut squash or a sweet potato to your pumpkin you can give the jack-o-lanterns more pumpkin flavor. 
The best way to prepare pumpkin for use in dishes is to roast it. Roasting pumpkins is very simply to do and produces a flesh that you don't have to further puree down. Just scoop it out of the shell and let it cool before using. So to kick off our Pumpkin Contest, I thought I'd give you the run down on just how to roast these sweet orange beauties!

Roasted Pumpkin

Find pumpkins that are on the smaller side, about 8-10 inches across the widest part or 24 inches in diameter.  Remove the stem if you can and the pumpkin in half through the stem end.

Now if you want to roast the pumpkins seeds, I've found the best way to remove them is grab a handful and slowly pull them up, letting the gooey, stringy stuff, slide through your fingers. Then just put them in a bowl and set them aside for later. Take a spoon and remove the rest of the pulp.
On a baking sheet place the pumpkins upside down and place into a 350 degree, preheated oven for about an hour. I have a gas oven that retains quite a bit of heat once it's off so after the hour is up, I turn the oven off and let the pumpkins sit in the oven until they're cool enough for me to handle. This insures that they are roasted and soft all the way though.

You'll also notice that the outside of the pumpkin becomes a dark orange color and wrinkly when it's done. Then it just becomes a matter of scooping the flesh out into a bowl. One pumpkin should give you roughly 4 cups of pumpkin puree which is enough to make 2 pies. Since most recipes call for canned pumpkin anymore, you should remember that 2 packed cups of pumpkin is the same as one 15oz can.

H A P P Y  C O O K I N G !!

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