Once upon a time, I used to grow pumpkins. Vines would run through our raspberry patch, or appear overnight in our compost pile. My favorite pumpkin was the bush pumpkin I found one spring at Home Depot. I saved those seeds, and I keep planting them year after year.
Alas, this year, my pumpkin experience is limited to buying them at my favorite local spot, Linvilla Orchards. Which is not a bad experience. Seriously, when you see the hundreds upon hundreds of pumpkins of different varieties in the bins at Pumpkin Land (opening September 14th), you’ll feel the same tug to load up your cart with this cute little orange pumpkin, and that sage green Cinderella pumpkin. And yes, kids, bring those pumpkins on over. I’ll find a place for them.
Pumpkins are not meant just for Jack o’ lanterns and decoration. Native Americans dried them into strips and wove the strips into mats. Colonists sliced the tops off the pumpkins, filled them with spices, milk, and honey, and roasted them in hot ashes, the origin of today’s pumpkin pie. Since pumpkins kept well during the winter, Native Americans relied on them as a source of food.
How to Freeze Pumpkins
Pumpkins are easy to prepare for the freezer if you don’t plan on storing them in a cool dark place. If you want to use your Jack ‘ lantern pumpkin for food, wait until the 31st to carve the pumpkin and cook and puree it the next day for the freezer.
Before roasting, I cut my pumpkins in half and clean out the seeds. Some people like to roast the seeds with salt and eat them; my family never developed a taste for roasted pumpkin seeds. I put the pumpkin halves on cookie sheets and place them in a 350 degree oven. Many pumpkins take at least an hour to roast, bigger ones will need more time. The pumpkin is finished when a fork can poke holes easily in the flesh.
Pull the pumpkin out and let it cool until it’s safe to handle. Generally, I use a big spoon to scoop the flesh from the shell and put the cooked flesh immediately into a food processor to puree. Then, I pack the pumpkin puree in 2 cup portions in quart freezer bags. If you lay the bags flat while freezing, you can stack them in the freezer later on. Remember to label the bags with the name and date. No mystery bags in the freezer puh-lease.
I pulled together my pumpkin recipes, along with a few I need to try. I’m working on a gluten-free pumpkin cookie recipe adapted from The Joy of Cooking which I’ll be posting later next week.
Pumpkin Gingerbread (I like to make this at Christmas time for my children’s teachers and neighbors.)
Recipes I Need to Try
Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Maple Glaze from Good Cheap Eats
Pumpkin Custard Cups from Amee’s Savory Dish