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Pumpkins Galore

October 11, 2011
by Jane Whitmore , Emmetsburg News

A pumpkin is a member of the gourd family and so is the squash - fruit of the vine. We cook pumpkins and squash, but we don't cook gourds.

Let's get a definition:?gourd 1) any of a family of chiefly herbaceous tendril-bearing vines including the cucumber, melon, squash and pumpkin; 2) the fruit of a gourd - any of various hard-rinded inedible fruits of plants of two genera often used for ornament or for vessels and utensils.

Okay - we definitely don't eat gourds.

So let's look at pumpkins. Each year we investigate the "biggest" pumpkin at the Clay County Fair. I don't know how those pumpkins get so big, let alone how they transport them to the fair. I have never had a pumpkin patch in my garden - just not enough space.

This is the time of year we see pumpkins as decoration for fall and for Halloween. When carving a pumpkin, first you have to get the "innards" out. You know, the slimly insides intertwined with seeds. And the seeds are what I save to make roasted pumpkin seeds.

Online, I found a recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds (or squash seeds). Boil seeds in water for five minutes; drain well; sprinkle with salt or seasoned salt; place on a cookie sheet and bake at 250-degrees. Stir after 30 minutes. Bake one-half to one hour or more until crunchy.

Well, that's not exactly how I do it. I leave some of the pumpkin "slime" on the seeds, mix the salt with a bit of melted butter and spread them on a cookie sheet to bake low and slow, stirring often, until crunchy.

Carving a ghoulish pumpkin is always fun - the crazier the face, the better. In warm weather, the face gets all wrinkled and collapses inward for a really old looking pumpkin face. For a few years we painted faces on pumpkins so that they would last longer.

But we never baked or roasted a pumpkin. We never made our own fresh pumpkin pulp for a pie. It's much more convenient to buy a can of pumpkin at the store.

Back to the online article about pumpkins and we find "How to Roast a Pumpkin."

This comes from Tawra Kellam at You can only roast a fresh pumpkin. Do not use on a pumpkin that has been carved and sitting out for several days.

To bake a fresh six to seven pound pumpkin, halve the pumpkin crosswise and scoop out the seeds and strings. Place halves, hollow side down, in a large baking pan covered with aluminum foil and add a little water. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for one and one-half to two hours or until fork-tender. Remove. When cool, scrape pulp from shells and puree, a little at a time, in food processor or blender. Mix with a little salt.

To use pumpkin puree for recipes:?Line a strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth or a flour sack dish towel and let the pumpkin sit to drain out the extra moisture before cooking with it. Pumpkin is very moist, so in order for your recipe to come out correctly, you must strain it.

Thanks, Tawra, but if I decide to bake a pumpkin pie (pumpkin smoothie, pumpkin crunch, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pancakes or pumpkin maple sauce) -- I'm definitely going to the store to buy a can of pumpkin.



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