Monkey Boy has an incredible amount of energy, and he ran us all over the farm during our visit to a local pumpkin patch last week. The farm had cornstalks and pumpkins piled near the entrance and he spent a few minutes touching them all and explaining which one he liked. After the hayride we were dropped off at the pick your own area and though there were little pie pumpkins all over the ground, Monkey Boy took his time and carefully examined each one that caught his eye as he tried to select the best one. I picked up a few and asked if he liked those, but he just shook his head and kept looking. His criteria remained a secret, though he did finally choose one with a long stem and carefully carried it back to the car. After all the care he put into selecting his pumpkin, I wasn’t sure he would let me bake it, but he was actually excited about making pumpkin pie or cake with it.
Roasting is an easy way to cook the pumpkin enough to loosen the flesh from the skin, just clean the outside of the pumpkin with hot water, then cut it and scoop out the guts. We save our pumpkin seeds and roast them later, but you can also compost them along with the stringy bits. The pureed pumpkin will keep in the refrigerator for a few days, and you can also freeze it.
HOW TO ROAST A PUMPKIN AND MAKE PUMPKIN PUREE
Makes about 1-1/2 to 2 cups of pumpkin puree.
baking sheet lined with foil, lightly coated with cooking spray
heavy knife or cleaver
1 sweet pumpkin (pie pumpkin)
1. Preheat the oven to 400° F/200° C.
2. Wash the entire surface of the pumpkin well with hot water. If you can get a good hold on it, break off the stem. Using a heavy knife or cleaver, cut the pumpkin in half from top to bottom. Remove any of the stem that might remain. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Cut each half again so you have quarters.
3. Place the pieces skin side down on the prepared pan and cover with heavy foil. Roast in the preheated oven for 60 to 90 minutes, until the flesh is very soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool until you can handle it without burning yourself.
4. While the pumpkin is still warm, scoop out the flesh with a spoon and put it into the food processor. Process until the mixture is very smooth with no chunks. If the puree is watery, drain some of the liquid off. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
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