Foodie fun: Pumpkins, buy now, freeze pulp and use later |

Foodie fun: Pumpkins, buy now, freeze pulp and use later

Stacy Jeremias/Submitted to aedgett@sierrasun.comSo many pumpkins, so little time ... but not if you freeze and save them for holidays to come.

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212;-Itand#8217;s time. The family-sized bags of Halloween candy you like to keep in the cabinet next to your bathtub, the ones youand#8217;ve been eyeballing since Aug. 12, are now on sale. They have a very long shelf life. But what about the poor pumpkins now in the and#8220;Buy One Get, One Freeand#8221; bin? Mother Nature didnand#8217;t bless them with the same preservatives as Nestle products. What are you supposed to do with that surplus of big orange squash? The first thing to remember is the pumpkin is, in fact, a fruit. The second thing to remember is, in the words of Euell Gibbons, the guy who sold us on Grape Nuts, and#8220;some parts are edible.and#8221; No, I am not that old. I studied advertising in college. (Thatand#8217;s my story and Iand#8217;m sticking to it.) There are a couple of ways to cook the pumpkin, thus making it easy to scoop out the meat, puree and freeze for future holiday recipes. A homemade pumpkin pie, cheesecake, soup, bread or risotto is really a different story, with a very happy ending, when you use fresh pumpkin.

To begin the process of starting from scratch, always look for the smaller and#8220;pieand#8221; or and#8220;sugarand#8221; pumpkins, around 6-8 inches in diameter. They are sweeter and less grainy. Also, like picking out a fruit, go with firm and no bruises.

Cooking a pumpkin in a microwave

Cut the pumpkin in half, from stem to end, and scoop out seeds. Rinse seeds in colander and remove any strings and gunk. Pat the seeds dry and save for future use. Remove stem and place halves (one at a time) in microwavable bowl, covered. Microwave on high for 15 minutes, check for softness with fork. Return to microwave and repeat process for another 10-15 minutes or 20-30 minutes total.

Cooking a pumpkin in a stove-top steamer

Same prep as using the microwave, but pumpkin halves should be cut down to quarters to fit in large pan with basket steamer. Make sure to add enough water to cover steamer and about and 1/2 inch of pumpkin. Steam about 20-30 minutes, checking at intervals for softness and to ensure there is enough water still in the pan. Drain and cool.

Processing the cooked pumpkin

Let pumpkin cool until easy to handle, then scoop out meat from rind with wooden spoon into large bowl and let sit for about 30 minutes to make sure any water (some pumpkins have more than others) drains off. Pour or strain all excess water off pumpkin. To puree the pulp into, well, a pulp, use a hand-held blender or a regular blender for two-to-three minutes.

Freezing the pumpkin puree

It doesnand#8217;t matter which of the above methods you use, the freezing procedure is the same. Just put the processed pumpkin into a Ziploc bag and store it in your freezer for up to six months.

Roasting the seeds

Coat surface of cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Spread one layer of cleaned, dried seeds over sheet. Bake seasoned seeds at 350and#730; for fifteen minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and loosen seeds with spatula. Cool completely before serving/storing. Will keep for about two weeks.

Savory seeds

Toss raw seeds with:

2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. chicken bouillon powder

2 tsp. grated Parmesan

2 Tbls. melted butter.

Cook per above instructions.

Sweet seeds

Toss raw seeds with:

1 Tbls. sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/8 tsp. allspice

2 Tbls. melted butter

Cook per above instructions.

And your reward for pulling off this Stepford Wife, Susie Homemaker, Martha Stewart-like effort is:

The Pumpkin Daiquiri

Combine in shaker container over ice:

2/12 ounces dark rum

1 Tbls. pumpkin puree

1 ounce simple syrup

1 ounce lime juice

1 ounce Tuaca

1 ounce maple syrup

Strain and serve garnished with a toasted marshmallow. I know. What marshmallow wouldnand#8217;t be toasted after hanging on the rim of this cocktail?

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