Stop! Don’t throw out those pumpkins! Don’t pass by that bargain pumpkin bin! Whatever you do- don’t smash it!
A wonderful friend of ours from South Africa once commented about how horrified she was to see all the beautiful delicious pumpkins that are wasted in England around Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night. We had been growing our own pumpkins for several years (finding canned pumpkin in England at that point was like gold-dust so… needs must) by then and we had stopped celebrating Halloween so I had a pure conscience on the pumpkin front when I nodded earnestly and agreed with her! But in reality most of us either don’t know what to do with our pumpkins that sit and rot away on the front step or don’t really like most pumpkin recipes. BUT I have never met an American who didn’t like pumpkin pie! So salvage that pumpkin- get it into your kitchen make it into a pumpkin pie nicer than any canned pumpkin you could buy!
Chop your pumpkin in half and scoop out the seed- save them and bake them yummy and very very good for you.
Chop half at a time into narrow slices and carefully slice away the peel. I find it easiest to peel it toward a board because pumpkin is pretty hard.
Roughly chop the pumpkin- very rough don’t bother to be precise. The whole process is so easy J. did the other half of my pumpkin!
This is what you will be left with: Seeds to bake, rind to compost and rough chopped pumpkin. Put the pumpkin in water and boil it till it is soft. Drain the pumpkin and let it cool in the strainer before putting it in a large freezer bag and freeze it for about two days or till it is frozen solid.
The day before you want to use the pumpkin take it out of the freezer and let it defrost: a huge amount of water will separate from the pumpkin- throw it out. Turn the drained lump of pumpkin out into a strainer lined with cheese cloth. Twist the cheesecloth up tight around your pumpkin lump and press down on it with your hands- squeeze the lump until it stops loosing water and looks like a thick lump rather like play-dough.
This one medium pumpkin made about the equivalent of one large can of pumpkin. To make it into pie use whatever recipe you would normally (I use something very like this one but I exclude the ginger add a LOT more cinnamon, double the clove and add a dash of nutmeg). If you got to the “lump phase” like in the photo above just mix up the evaporated milk and pumpkin and puree it before adding the other ingredients and bake as usual. If your pumpkin is a little moister than my photo reduce the milk by half and add an extra egg, puree the pumpkin milk mix and then add the other ingredients and bake as usual.
**Edit: Some people prefer an oven baked method- it’s easier to peel for sure! It takes a little longer to bake the pumpkin soft but it requires less time to prepare the pumpkin so that is the trade off. I’ve always gotten better results from boiling but for you who like to know it all here is a link to a good how to. It will be moister so play with your recipe and see what you get! And the variety you use can make a difference both in texture and in moisture so again… a little bit of kitchen chemistry involved.**
There is a warning with all this though: fresh pumpkin pie from real pumpkins is so much nicer than it’s supermarket shelf alternative you’re family may never eat canned pumpkin again without complaining that it tastes funny!
Have a wonderful weekend… I’ll be making pumpkin pie.