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Food Storage Tips: Roast pumpkin: Turning your jack-o-lantern into something edible

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Why do I buy pumpkins for jack-o-lanterns, and then open up a can of pumpkin to use for pie or cookies? Because I don’t have experience in turning pumpkins into real food, that’s why. So this year I want to see if I can figure this out. Maybe you can too.

A couple of years ago, I was listening to an NPR cooking show on this topic. The lady on the radio said to think of a pumpkin as a giant baked potato. You can bake it by poking holes in the skin and baking it for a couple of hours.

Since I don’t have experience in this matter, I’ll forward you to people who do. Tawra Kellam, author of Living on a Dime, wrote up this article about roast pumpkin. She cuts hers up into pieces and bakes them. After baking, she scrapes the pulp off the pumpkin shell and purees it in the blender with a little salt. She warns that you have to drain the extra water off before using it by placing the pumpkin in a colander lined with cheesecloth. She freezes the extra puree to use in recipes later.

Tawra also warns that the pumpkin you use has to be fresh. This is where I messed up last year. I thought I could bake the jack-o-lantern a few days later, and no, that didn’t work. It made the whole kitchen smell gross.

And here is a page from Tammy’s Recipes about using fresh pumpkin. She gives canning instructions here as well.

With the pumpkin, you can bake pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, or pumpkin muffins. I like to use the create-a-breakfast-muffin recipe from the Tightwad Gazette, which is very healthy and can be used with whatever ingredients you may have on hand.

Whatever pumpkins that you don’t turn into jack-o-lanterns can be stored whole in a root cellar or other cool place until you are ready to turn them into pumpkin puree.

Update: I have cooked two pumpkins according to Tawra Kellam’s instructions. It worked great. Two jack-o-lanterns created about 20 cups of pumpkin, so I guess we are going to have to eat more pumpkin. Amy Dacyczyn, in The Tightwad Gazette, wrote that her family eats “pumpkin pudding,” which is pumpkin pie without the crust. I think we’ll have to try it.

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