How to Cook Fresh Pumpkin & Winter Squash

Monday Morning Post

From the Kitchens of Cheesecake Farms

If your only taste of pumpkin has come from a can, you need to try pumpkin fresh from the patch.

Most pumpkins are edible. Some are smoother when cooked than others. Some (especially the jack-o-lantern type) tend to be a bit string-y but all work well in recipes.  

Here's how to make pumpkin puree....  which is what you get when you buy canned pumpkin.
Perfect for soups, pies, breads.... baking of all kinds

You can also cut a fresh pumpkin into chunks and steam it to serve as a vegetable.

Use this same method for winter squash.  

How to Cook a Fresh Pumpkin for Puree
Wash the pumpkin well under tepid running water.  Just put the whole pumpkin into the sink and let the water run.

Most pumpkins are very hard to cut so carefully (with a heavy knife or similar utensil) cut it open just enough that you can remove the seeds using a spoon and probably (at some point) your hand.  

Save the seeds for roasting. (Recipe follows.)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 
Line a shallow baking pan (with sides) with foil (shiny side up) or baking parchment. Mist lightly with cooking spray.  (Lining the pan makes for easier clean up!)   

Place pumpkin (and any cut pieces with edible pumpkin) into pan. (Turn any cut pieces upside down so rind is facing up.)  Put into oven. 

Roast, uncovered until pumpkin is soft and collapses - about 50 minutes or longer depending on size. Remove from oven. Cool.

Remove soft pumpkin from the rind.  Discard.  Mash or, if stringy, puree. 
Use in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin.

Keeps 3 or 4 days in the fridge.
Freeze or can pumpkin for longer storage.  (See Karla's Tip #1 below)

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Save those pumpkin seeds for healthy snacking. They add crunch to salads, too.  

Seeds from a raw pumpkin
Vegetable oil
Salt (optional)
Chili powder, garlic salt, cumin or your favorite spice blend (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (See Karla's Tip #2 below)

Put seeds into a colander and rinse well. Drain.

Toss each cup of seeds in 1 tablespoon oil.
Spread coated seeds onto an ungreased baking sheet. 

Sprinkle with salt and/or spices, if desired. 
Bake (stirring occasionally) until lightly browned - about 12 minutes.

Note - not all winter squash seeds are edible so stick to pumpkin seeds for eating.

Karla's Tips

1.   How To Freeze Roasted Pumpkin
Mash or puree pumpkin.  Portion into recipe size amounts and place in freezer proof containers or plastic bags. Freeze.  Keeps frozen about 1 year.

    How To Can Roasted Pumpkin
Using a reliable source for canning information (like your local extension agent), follow directions for pressure canning fresh pumpkin - a non acid food. 

2.  How To Save Time & Fuel  
Roast the pumpkin seeds at 325 degrees right along with the pumpkin if you have room in the oven..... just be sure to set a timer so they don't get forgotten in the oven.  At 325 degrees, they may take a few minutes longer.


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