Next week may be Turkey Day, but here at the homestead today was Pumpkin Day. Pumpkin Day is when all the pumpkins (the ones I grew over the summer and harvested back in September) become pumpkin puree, so they can go into all kinds of delicious seasonal dishes.
Pumpkin Day is very different from Pumpkin Spice Day, which happens in the stores and shops around August and has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with real pumpkins. It's now possible to have pumpkin bagels, pumpkin coffee, and pumpkin fabric softener, all of which contain NO pumpkins whatsoever (maybe a good thing in the case of the last item).
|Just roast.... (two of about 15 total)|
If you've ever grown pumpkins before, you know that not only do all pumpkins not look alike, they don't taste alike either, despite sharing pasture/garden space and being the same type of seed (in this case, Sugar Pie). You can even harvest them all on the same day, after all the vines have died back, only to discover some are more ripe than others.
They are damn individualists. A little like people, no?
Anyway, regardless of their shape and size, today is the day when I grant them equal rights to be delicious and cook them all to where they are discolored and droopy, nice and soft, and scoop out the seeds for the chickens, then puree the rest of the meat. Some puree is for now, some for next week, some for the bleak midwinter, when there's nothing more comforting than a nice batch of pumpkin bread or pumpkin soup.
One important thing to remember about cooking whole pumpkins is that the less-ripe ones will need more oven time than more-ripened ones. And you can tell more ripe from less ripe by the inside color. A deep, bright orange means it is ripe. A more pale orange means less. But if you cook the less-ripe ones enough, they are just as edible as their more attractive and ripe siblings (as long as they are fairly ripe -- no green should be present). I do recommend mixing them all together before pureeing however, so you hit a nice middle note between the ripe and not-as-ripe.
The other thing to note regarding cooking whole pumpkins is that, unfortunately, real pumpkins cooking in your oven do not smell nearly as inviting as pumpkin spice goodies do, so my advice is to burn a candle or enjoy a pumpkin-flavored latté while your gourds cook.
Once you are done, your pureéd pumpkin can be stored in the freezer for several months, if you can make it last that long. I have yet to get to Valentine's Day with any left. And since it's not exactly something you crave in summer, my advice is to wallow in its real, natural deliciousness while you can.
There's always plenty of the artificially-flavored stuff to tide you over 'till the season rolls around next year.