Each year I spend time breaking down a large pumpkin to be stored in the freezer in puree and/or chunks. Last year I had one large pumpkin that was used in pumpkin curries, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie and more. This year, I had three small pumpkins and one very, very large and dense heirloom pumpkin. My largest pumpkin, weighing in at over 22 pounds, was featured on our Thanksgiving table this November before it was moved to our fireplace mantle (the pilot light has been off, no fires!) until I decided to use it.
The time finally came on Sunday when I was inspecting the pumpkin to make sure it was still holding up and noticed there was some kind of mite that had made its home in the deep crevices of this behemoth. Time for the knife!
I’m not sharing a picture of the bugs because, ew. But I cleaned them out then sliced this pumpkin open. And yes, that is a bottle of vodka, my second loaf of fresh bread and my compost bucket on my counter. This is real life.
I almost went to fix this next picture because I thought maybe the tint was off. I mean, it’s so orange. Then I realized that the rest of the picture is fine. These Musque de Provence pumpkins are super vibrantly colored with an orangish red hue. Absolutely beautiful for anything where you see the squash.
More importantly… look how dense this pumpkin is!!! I couldn’t believe my eyes. No wonder this big boy weighed over 22 pounds when fresh– it had hardly any space in the middle like most pumpkins. In fact, the hollow middle was so small there was only one seed. Yup. And the goop you have to scrape out? Maybe 1/3 of a cup total. By comparison, my largest small pumpkin which was slightly larger than a softball had about the same amount of space inside of it and about a cup of seeds not including goop.
The down side of having so gosh darn much pumpkin is that it would take hours to fully bake this squash down. Instead, I plopped it in the oven for an hour then finally gave up and decided to break it down just barely softened. The hour in the oven helped the skin come away from the flesh though most of the pumpkin was still crunchy. Out came the food processor and I worked away removing skin, chopping up squash, and pureeing.
I actually decided not to freeze any cubes this time because after sitting out for over a month the flesh had become a little stringy from drying out and wouldn’t be so great in curry. Instead, I used about four quarts of puree for pumpkin butter and froze the rest in different cup measurements to be used later (bread, muffins, soup, pie, empanadas, etc.). Also, near the end I starting being a little more free with throwing bits of skin out that still had some pumpkin attached so I didn’t 100% utilize absolutely all of the pumpkin but with four quarts of pumpkin butter and all this frozen pumpkin (almost 3 quarts), I’m fairly satisfied.
Wanna know what else lives in my freezer besides ice? From upper left going clockwise: Potato pierogis from the farmer’s market, frozen pizza, tomatoes in a jar that I did not heat process like my other canned goods, turkey broth, tahini, liquor and limoncello, jar of bay leaves (laurel) from Manarola, Italy, greenbeans, fresh frozen ramen noodles, pumpkin (duh), pie crust and more turkey broth. You can’t see some frozen mean (chicken and beef), puff pastry, and all the frozen fruit, nuts and vegetables that live on the freezer door as well as a few other odds and ends. We don’t do a lot of processed foods in our home unless I’m the one doing the processing. But I digress!
Anyone have any fantastic pumpkin recipes to send my way? I’m a big fan of trying out savory uses for the squash that make it into dinner. Aside from curry and empanadas I mentioned above, I’ve used it to make savory scones and even used it instead of potatoes on a shepard’s pie. I skipped a few canning recipes this year since it was easier to just process everything in one go. Link me to your favorite pumpkin recipes!