Autumn has arrived along with the delectable aromas of pumpkin and spice. Fall and winter holidays wouldn’t be the same without an old fashioned pumpkin pie, but there are numerous other ways to prepare this favorite harvest time fruit. Learn how to cook fresh pumpkin, and then try using it in these delicious recipes.
Selecting a Pumpkin
“Pie pumpkins” or “sweet pumpkins” are the best varieties of pumpkins for cooking. They are smaller than traditional jack o’lantern pumpkins and have sweeter, less watery flesh. Select a pumpkin with a stem at least one to two inches long. Stems shorter than this will hasten the pumpkin’s decay. Misshapen pumpkins are fine for cooking, but avoid any with soft spots or blemishes.
Cooking Fresh Pumpkin
Remove the stem and cut the pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds and stringy mass and rinse. (Pumpkin seeds may be washed and then roasted with butter and salt for a tasty treat.) The pumpkin may be cooked in one of the following ways:
- Boil or Steam: Cut the pumpkin into large chunks and place in a large pot with one cup of water. Cover and boil 20 to 30 minutes or until tender. Alternatively, the pumpkin may be placed in a steamer basket and steamed for 10 to 12 minutes.
- Oven: Place pumpkin halves, skin side down, on roasting pan with a thin layer of water. Cover and bake at 300 degrees for approximately one hour or until tender.
- Microwave: Place pumpkin halves, skin side down, in microwave-safe bowl with a couple inches of water. Cook on high for 15 minutes. If pumpkin is not tender, continue cooking at 1 to 2 minute intervals until done.
Allow cooked pumpkin to cool and then remove peel. Place pumpkin in a food processor or blender and puree. Each pound of raw, untrimmed pumpkin will yield approximately one cup of puree. Pumpkin puree may be frozen up to one year.
2 egg yolks
1 cup pumpkin
1 1/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons melted shortening
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup flour
2 egg whites, beaten until fluffy
Beat egg yolks; add pumpkin, milk, and shortening. Sift baking powder, salt, sugar, and flour. Add to pumpkin mixture and stir. Gently fold in beaten egg whites. Fry on a hot griddle.
Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie
1â„4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup pumpkin
1â„2 teaspoon cinnamon
1â„4 teaspoon ginger
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of ground cloves
1â„4 teaspoon salt
1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened
1 9-inch gingersnap or graham cracker pie shell, chilled
1â„3 cup pecans
Combine brown sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in medium bowl. Add mixture to ice cream and mix until smooth. Spoon into pie shell. Top with pecans. Freeze until firm. Let pie stand at room temperature for several minutes to soften slightly before serving.
Pumpkin Au Gratin
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound peeled pumpkin, cut into 1 1/4″ chunks
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put olive oil, pepper, and a few flakes of sea salt in a large bowl, then stir in Parmesan. Add pumpkin and toss until well coated. Brush a shallow gratin dish with olive oil and add pumpkin mixture. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour. If cheese browns before pumpkin is tender, cover dish with foil for the last 15 minutes of cooking. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Pumpkin Pound Cake
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
4 eggs, separated (at room temperature)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin
Powdered sugar for dusting
In bowl, sift flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom. Set aside. In large mixing bowl, beat butter until smooth. Gradually add in brown sugar. Add vanilla and beat approximately 3 minutes. Gradually add beaten egg yolks. Add pumpkin puree and beat until smooth. Add flour mixture, a little at a time, and mix well. Set aside. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gently fold whites into pumpkin batter. Spoon batter into greased tube or Bundt pan. Bake in lower third of oven 45 to 50 minutes at 350 degrees. Allow cake to cool 10 minutes, then invert onto cake plate. Once cake completely cools, dust with powdered sugar.