Thursday, 31 October 2013

Pumpkin


We just love pumpkin and you will find a plentiful supply on the markets and in the shops at the moment.  I find that some of my friends are put off buying it because often there are only two of them in the household and a pumpkin seems an awful lot of vegetable.  One tip is to buy just a half or even a quarter, or even a kilo already skinned, cut into chunks and bagged up.  

I mostly buy a part of one with the skin on and seeds and inner stringy bits removed, then when I get it home the first thing I do, with the aid of my husband a very sharp knife, is to remove the skin from the pumpkin, cut it into chunks and bag it before putting it in the fridge, it will keep for up to a week like this before the outside of the chunks starts to go a little slimy, you then need to use it up quite quickly.  
The best way to tackle the pumpkin is to cut width ways across the piece of pumpkin to make it into smaller strips, then cut each of these into chunks, about the size of an average apple, and then place one of the cut sides of the pumpkin on your board and carefully slice off the skin.

Don't forget that if you pumpin still has its seeds after you have removed them and the strinngy bits from the inside of the pumpkin, clean off as much of the strinngy bits from the seeds as you can these can be roasted for a tasty snack.

Pumpkin Puree

When looking at pumpkin recipes you will find most of them talk about tinned pumpkin, now, if like me, you cannot get tinned pumpkin, then make your own, it is simple, and I have read a lot tastier.  Most recipes mention a 15 ounce can of pumpkin, if you substitute this with 1 and 3/4 cups of pumpkin, you will be about right.  Other recipes mention using 1 cup of pumpkin puree.  As I am going to freeze the puree until I need it, I will bag up some in 1 and 3/4 cup quantities and some in 1 cup quantities, so I am ready for any recipe.

To prepare the puree, if you pumpkin is whole, cut it into large chunks and remove the strings and seeds from the centre you can leave the skin on, it will easily peel off later.  Place in a baking tray, you don't need to add any oil.  Bake in the oven at 170c for around 45 mins, until the pumpkin feels soft when prodded with a fork.  Even if your pumpkin is already peeled, bake in the same way, you just may not need to cook it for quite as long.

Allow to cool slightly, until easy to handle, and peel off the skins, which should come away easily.  Place the peeled pumpkin and any juices left in the bottom of the baking tray into a food processor or blender and blend to a smooth paste.

When cold transfer to you containers and place in the freezer until needed.  It can also be placed in an airtight container and stored in the fridge for a few days.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Clean up the seeds by removing as much of the strinngy bits as you can, place the seeds in a bowl and toss them in a little olive or sunflower oil, until they are all evenly coated, but not dripping in oil, sprinkle with some salt and also any spices you like, such as chilli, curry powder, smoky paprika or any combination you like and again gently mix the seeds and spices until the seeds are evenly covered. Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, large enough so that the seeds are in one layer and place in a hot oven at 200C/400F/Gas Mark 7 for around 10 to 15 minutes, until the seeds have started to turn golden brown in colour, it is best to take them out of the oven once during this time to give them a gentle shake to stop the from sticking.  Allow to cool and they can either be eaten straight away or they can be stored on an airtight jar for several days.  Generally I will have the oven on within a day or two of buying my pumpkin, so I often wait until then to roast the seeds, so that the tray can be sat on the bottom of the oven rather than putting the oven on especially.

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