October and pumpkins what can I say, love and marriage? horse and carriage?. You definitely can’t have one without the other. Unless of course, you don’t like pumpkin, in which case check back around the 7th of the month.
I thought a good place to start was with pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice, the basics of many pumpkin recipes. Did you know that the U.S. Department of Agriculture allows any sweet, yellow squash in combination in tins of 100% pumpkin?
Making your own puree is simple. It can be made from most pumpkin varieties but sugar pumpkins give a lovely texture, taste and colour, great for baking. The colour might not matter too much when adding brown sugar to pumpkin pie but in other recipes, keeping things bright and cheery is a bonus. They will last in a cool place for about a month and longer in the fridge. Choose ones free of blemishes and that feel heavy for their size. The weight check can also be used when picking fresh oranges in a couple of months.
Now would also be a good time to turn on the oven to 375 degrees F.
A big spoon will be good for scooping. If the plan is to on use or roast the seeds, put them aside.
Technically the seed hulls are edible although many people choose not to eat them and shelling the seeds can be finicky and time consuming.
I have tried several methods suggested for bulk shelling and have yet to be successful.
Bake for at least 90 minutes or until a knife can easily pierce the pumpkin flesh.
Cool on rack. There will be pumpkin juice in the middle of the pumpkin when it is removed from the oven so please be careful to hold the try steady.
I would highly suggest not trying to make a Hogwarts specialty with it. It is not that kind of pumpkin juice.
Pour the liquid out, once the pumpkin is cool enough to handle.
Option two would be to scoop out the flesh with a large spoon.
Pumpkins can hold their heat for quite awhile so watch your fingers.
Gather up the cooked flesh, place in a blender and whirl until the mixture is smooth.
If this step is skipped, the stringy pieces of pumpkin can affect the finished texture of future projects.
If you happen to have a blender wherein a vacuum is created easily, especially when blending hot items, I have a little trick to get you out of your misery if the lid will not open after processing.
This is a strap wrench. It is used for getting stuck oil filters out of cars. I purchased a new pack of two, different sizes for $14.00Cdn. They are also available for almost $30.00 but these do the job.
When the lid is so wide it is not possible to get a grip good enough to open, a strap wrench has never failed me.
Transfer the pureed pumpkin to a sieve or colander lined with cheesecloth set over a bowl.
The pumpkin puree can sit for up to four hours at room temperature or be covered with wrap and allowed to sit in the fridge overnight.
I generally get about 1/2 cup of extra liquid out of a small sugar pumpkin.
But hey! its October. Of course we are going to use it.
On to pumpkin pie spice!
What goes into pumpkin pie spice you ask? The truth, is that depends on who answers your question. There is no fixed recipe, only a general plan that you can tweak to meet your taste requirements.
Usually the largest amount of spice in the mixture is cinnamon with ginger coming in second. After that there is allspice and nutmeg and sometimes cloves or mace. In recent years you can also sometimes find cardamon and although it is tasty, it is not traditional.
The recipe I am using this year is: 1 Tbsp. cinnamon, 2 tsp. ginger, 1 tsp. allspice, 1/2 tsp. each of nutmeg. cloves and cardamon. Sift the ingredients through a small hand sieve, mix well, bottle and label.
Well there you have it, the basic requirements of October & November supplies. Let the seasoning commence!
Pumpkin Season Preparations from My Kitchen Wand