Pumpkin Pie – and So Much More!


Pumpkin pie is a sure sign of fall. But there’s so much more you can make with this delicious squash.

By FamilyTime

 

When we think of pumpkins in the fall, we think of two things: jack o’lanterns and pumpkin pie.

Carved jack o’lanterns are made from large field pumpkins. As a rule, the flesh from these oversized squashes is not recommended for making pies.

Pies are best made with the flesh of small sugar pumpkins or other relatively small varieties designated as being good for cooking. Tiny, saucer-sized pumpkins are too diminutivel for cooking and should only be used for decoration.

Luckily for all of us who would rather not chop up a pumpkin and roast the flesh, canned pumpkin products are truly first rate.

Beyond Pies
Pumpkin puree – cooked and mashed pumpkin flesh or the puree you buy in cans – is most commonly baked into pies.

Plain pumpkin puree also can be used to make delicious pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake, and even pumpkin cheesecake!

You can mix it with carrot or another squash puree and season it with spices and butter for a savory side dish. It also is the base for warm, comforting soup.

Pumpkin in the Can
If you decide to buy canned pumpkin (and let’s face it, most home cooks do), take care to purchase the right product. Companies that market pumpkin puree sell it both seasoned or unseasoned. The seasoned filling is usually labeled as “pumpkin pie filling.”

Pumpkin pie filling is very good and will eliminate the need for you to use your own spices at home. If you prefer to add the nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice yourself, be sure to buy unseasoned puree.

If you are unsure which is which, read the ingredient list on the can. Pure pumpkin puree should contain nothing but pumpkin. Seasoned puree will contain added ingredients such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar or corn syrup.

Pumpkin in the Raw
For those times when you want to start from scratch or if you have grown pumpkins in your garden, you have to cook the squash to soften it.

One five- to six-pound pumpkin produces about 4 cups of puree. This is enough for two pies.

To prepare a raw pumpkin, scoop out the seeds and strings. Cut the whole pumpkin into large pieces and then lay the pieces, skin-side up, in an oiled baking pan. Add a little water to the pan and then cover it with foil. Roast the pumpkin at 400°F. for 35 to 40 minutes, or until soft.

Let the pumpkin cool and then scoop the flesh from the shells. Discard the shells.

Pumpkin pieces can be steamed, too, to soften them. Set them over a few inches of boiling water and steam for 30 to 40 minutes.

If you have a pressure cooker, cook one-inch pieces with 1 ½ cups of water at 15 pounds of pressure for about 12 minutes. Cool the cooker immediately.

Once the flesh is soft and removed from the skin, you can mash it and season it to your heart’s content. Use a fork, a potato masher, or a food processor.

Pumpkin Seeds
All squash seeds, including pumpkin seeds, are delicious when roasted. Don’t rinse them after you remove them from the pumpkin. Toss them with a little oil and salt and then spread them on a baking sheet.

Bake them in a cool oven (250°F.) for about 90 minutes until dry. They are now ready to season further and roast in a hotter oven or on top of the stove until fragrant and crispy – usually 10 to 15 minutes.