How to Cook Fresh Pumpkin
Let’s talk pumpkin! They are the star of the fall, the celebrity of Thanksgiving and the seductive ingredient that helps us all cozy up to the holidays. I know several of my food memories are filled with the sweet remembrance of pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin pie, pumpkin waffles and the list goes on. So why with such an important feature in our cooking do we trust it to canned pumpkin puree. Sure canned pumpkin will do in a pinch but when we are planning our menus and trying to “wow” our friends and family we should be thinking about how to make the most delightful, delicious treats. Here at The Blue Goose Inn, we treat our guests to the freshest, tastiest breakfasts and that includes using local pumpkin from our nearby farms. When using a fresh pumpkin you can control the variety, the freshness and be assured that you are helping your local economy.
I think the reason most of us don’t use fresh pumpkin is the intimidation factor. We are thinking it is too hard or we need special tools. That is not the case and I will show you how easy it is.
- One medium size (5lb) cooking pumpkin (Winter Luxury, Queensland Blue & Sugar Baby are good choices)
- First, start with a pumpkin. I have chosen a Winter Luxury that grows here on Whidbey Island. It is the perfect size and has a nice sweet, velvety texture for baking. Pumpkins that are best for pie tend to be smaller and sweeter than your Halloween pumpkin varieties.
- Second, I steam my pumpkins in a double broiler but you can also cook your pumpkin and a 400° oven for about an hour. I like to use steam because it takes less time and it seems to stay moister. For the steam method, fill the bottom pan with about two inches of water and bring to a boil.
- Third, cut the pumpkin into sections and scrap off the seeds and fibrous material. I save my seeds to roast for snacking but that is a different recipe.
- Fourth, lay the cleaned, sectioned pumpkin in the steaming basket and cook until soft, about 15 minutes.
- Fifth, lay the cooked pumpkin on a baking sheet to cool.
- Sixth, scrape the cooked pumpkin into a food processor and process until smooth.
The fresh pumpkin puree is now ready to use. You can also put it in the refrigerator for several days or put it in an airtight container and save in the freezer for several months. I like to store mine in the freezer in 1 cup measurements so I can use it anytime.
Now the real fun, finding all the delicious ways to use our fresh pumpkin puree. At the Inn one of our favorite Fall recipes is Pumpkin Pancakes with Cinnamon Brown Butter Sauce. They are not difficult to make and will make any breakfast or brunch special. Enjoy!