You know what sucks about carving pumpkins for Halloween? They get ruined, especially here in South Carolina where it’s remains up to 70 degrees through November. That equals gross, rotten pumpkin gook on your porch if you puncture the thing then leave it outside for days on end. I prefer to leave them whole, and I prefer to get them after Halloween so they are much cheaper. Today the three main goals are to come out of the other side of this experience with:
- Pumpkin puree to freeze
- Pumpkin seeds to roast
- Compost bin scraps
First, cut that tough squash in half with a very large and preferably freshly sharpened knife.
Next, cut each half in half (or quarter it, if you want to be all technical on me here). Then use a spoon and your hands to scoop the seeds and the stringy pulp out. Sling it all into a large, handily placed bowl to play with later. Get as much of the stringy part gone as possible.
Have your oven heated to 350 and place the pumpkin on cookie sheets. Pour enough water in the bottom of the cookie sheets to cover the bottoms of the pans. The steam created from this water will help soften the tough outer skin where it’ll be easier to peel off later. Let the pumpkins steam/roast for about an hour.
Let them cool for a while, probably 20-30 minutes. I was stupid here and started messing with the pumpkins at 9 p.m. Sunday night and was stupid tired but still had to deal with these things since I started it. UNGH. Now, while you’ve got an hour to spare, turn your attention back to the bowl of seeds and gunk. Yep, that’s the one.
Separate the seeds out from the gook. You’ll still have some fleshy bits clinging to the seed but just toss the seeds into yet another bowl (didn’t see this turning into a marathon dish-washing session later, did ya?). Keep the goo in the original bowl to reduce the need to wash yet another. Rinse the seeds out under running water, using your fingers to rub the flesh off the seeds. Drain off the pulpy water as needed and go until you’re tired of it or satisfied with the results. You could go ahead and prep the seeds to roast, but like I said, this was late, so I drained the water off the seeds and threw them in the fridge to deal with later.
At long last, the pumpkin should be roasted and then cooled off. Carefully peel/cut/scoop the flesh away from the rind and toss the flesh into a waiting blender. Toss the cooked rind into the trash. Blend up the pumpkin in batches, getting it nice and smooth in there. I had to use the highest setting on my high end Hamilton Beach blender.
As each batch is done, pour it right into freezer bags. I would have preferred quart size bags, but someone must have used them all. That’s okay, gallons are fine too. I got two nearly full gallon bags out of this pumpkin. Lay them flat in the freezer to solidify, and use within three months.
And just as a public service announcement: Pumpkin cannot stand up on its own in freezer bags. Evidence? I set a gallon bag upright for JUST A MINUTE and it took a tumble. Luckily it was right into the sink, but I lost a good third of a gallon. Doesn’t that look mighty appetizing?
Now what are you going to do with all of this pumpkin? Mine is destined for pumpkin chili, pumpkin pie, pumpkin garlic knots, pumpkin smoothies, maybe pumpkin fudge?! Possibilities! They are all possible without a run to the grocery store for canned pumpkin now. BOOM. Now go compost the scraps, and find a suitable roasted pumpkin seed recipe for me, will you? My seeds are still chilling in the fridge waiting for me to heat them up to very high heats for my snacking pleasure.