Rea Bates

Pumpkin Time!

I’m not a big fan of pumpkin spice flavored things. But I do enjoy pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, and such. For years The Furry Guy and I have processed our own pumpkins. The resulting pumpkin is a world away from canned pumpkin. Here’s how you can process your own pumpkin.

First, if you haven’t grown your own pumpkins, you’ll want to buy small sugar pumpkins. They have better flavor and texture, and they’re easier to process.

Once you have your pumpkins, wash them thoroughly. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the stem out. Cut each pumpkin in half. Clear out the seeds and strings. Place the pumpkin, cut side down, on a baking sheet. Bake until a fork can easily pierce the peel and flesh—about 45 minutes, depending on the size of the pumpkin. (You can cut the amount of oven time to about 15 minutes by first microwaving the pumpkin sections, cut side down, on a microwave-safe dish, on high for 10 minutes. But don’t skip the oven altogether. It adds a caramelized quality to the pumpkin that deepens the flavor.)

Once the pumpkin has cooked through, the peel/skin should slip off easily. Let the pumpkin cool until you can comfortably handle it and slip the skin off.

Pumpkin Processing

Now you’ll want to remove the flesh from the fiber (or at least break up the fibers). At this point, we use a dilver to process the pumpkin. A dilver looks like a cone with holes all over it. You use a wooden pestle to press the pumpkin through the holes. But you don’t have to have a dilver. You can press it through a ricer or process it in a food processor. Once you’ve processed your pumpkin, let it cool completely. You now have pumpkin puree.

At this point, your pumpkin is ready to use. Use it cup for cup as a substitute for canned pumpkin in your recipes. If you won’t be using the pumpkin within the week, freeze it. I usually freeze ours in 1- or 2-cup containers, since my recipes tend to call for pumpkin in those amounts.

One of our favorite ways to use our pumpkin puree is in pumpkin mousse. It sounds all fancy, but it’s really just pumpkin pie without the crust. Here’s my recipe.

May your week ahead be filled with sunshine.

Pumpkin Mousse

4 eggs, slightly beaten
4 c pumpkin
¾ c brown sugar
1 t salt
2 t cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
¼ t ground cloves
1 t freshly grated nutmeg*
1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine filling ingredients in order. Pour into a casserole dish. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake an additional hour or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool.

*Yes, you can use pre-grated nutmeg, but it doesn’t compare in flavor.

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Rea Bates is an Independent Consultant with the Pampered Chef. You can see her Facebook Page by clicking HERE. Her column appears each Sunday in Peru Indiana Today.