As Easy as Pie


Oh…the joys of Spring and Summer are upon us….no?  It’s Autumn, you say?  Really?  Where’d my Summer go?!!

You might also feel that way…just a bit?

These little 3 to 4 pound beauties make the best pies!

This post really brings me into reality.  I just realized it was time to bake the pumpkins. (still shaking my head that it is autumn)

“Oh how we love pumpkin season. You did know this gourd-ish squash has its own season, right? Winter, Spring, Summer, Pumpkin…. We anxiously anticipate it every year.” ~Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer, October 2010

I usually prefer to bake up actual pie pumpkins and my favorite one is the little “Winter Luxury” pie pumpkin, as smaller tends to mean sweeter.  I get the seeds from the Jung Seed company in Wisconsin.  But since my unofficial motto is (according to my husband) “Can it before it rots” I pretty much put-by food regardless of pedigree.  I rather enjoy carving a huge jack-o-lantern and baking a pie from the face parts I cut out.  It brings a chuckle to any kid in your home to be eating “face pie” on Halloween.  I also will use hearty sweeter pumpkin like squashes like Red Warty Thing and hubbard as pumpkin mash as they are pretty much interchangeable in recipes.

Pumpkin is the one thing I don’t can.  Instead I prefer to freeze it.  The pure density of squash leaves too much question about whether the pressure canning process brought the center of the jar up to the right temperature and for long enough.  Additionally, I prefer to take it out as ready to go mash.  NEVER, can mashed pumpkin as it is too dense for safe home processing.

So….this morning, my house was 59 degrees.  By George, I am NOT lighting the furnaces in September.  That makes it a perfect day to bake pumpkins.  Here is what I do:

Just halve the pumpkins and place on a cookie sheet to bake.

Preheat oven to 325 (you can do 350 for a faster bake, but don’t go higher).  You want to slow simmer the flesh, not bake it crispy.  Take a long carving knife and slice the pumpkin in half.  Scoop the seedy center our with a spoon and …in my case at least….feed that yummy center to the chickens and ducks!  Lay the halved pumpkin face down on foil covered (for clean-up ease only, foil bottom not necessary) cookie sheets and cover with foil.

Boy…that took all of 5-10 minutes.  Really…this isn’t that hard or time consuming.  I might lose my day-job if people realized how easy some of these very heirloom activities actually are….

Bake for 1 to 3 hours, depending on how much you have in your oven and how big the pieces are.  Smaller equals faster.

You know the pumpkin is done when a fork slides easily in all the way to the shell as if warm butter.

You know they are done when you can sink a dinner fork like into warm butter until it reaches the shell.  Take out and let cool a few minutes.  You probably can read half of “Fifty Shades of Grey” during this effortless time and people will thing you slaved to make them a pumpkin pie from scratch.  Your secret.  🙂

After baking let the pumpkins cool just enough to handle. It is easier to work with when warm.

Next is up to you.  At this point the pumpkin is ready to use in recipes.  I don’t like the texture of the occasional strings in the flesh.  So here is what I do:

With a soup spoon I scoop the now soft and warm flesh into my old food mill.  Press it with a few turns of my hand and it deposits into the bowl underneath.  Any strings are strained out by this extra step and it is also not time consuming.  Warmer is better.

If not using it right away, stir and premeasure into freezer containers or bags, writing the amount,date, and of course, contents on a label.  100% pumpkin.

SO EASY.  AND, it is your family food quality control … You know what is in that pumpkin puree and what isn’t.  You may not have read that aforementioned book, but I get a lot done when baking pumpkin and I adjust the oven temp lower if I have to run on an errand that is longer than an hour or so.

This food mill may be old, but it sure does a quick job of sending pumpkin through.

It is very easy to scoop out a baked pumpkin.

Mine almost entirely goes into pumpkin pie.  Which should be another post perhaps.  Equally as easy, but oh so tasty!  My favorite pie.  I actually had it be my “wedding cake” when I married.  I love it that much.

Do you bake your own pumpkin?  What is your favorite variety for it?

Ready for the freezer!

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About vkhanson

Travel back to simpler times. Experience for yourself the heritage skills of your choosing. Enjoy hearty foods and beverages while hands-on experiencing soap making, bread making, home canning, making jams and jellies, pies and more. Learn how these skills were made using old tools and seeing how today's technology can cut time and effort to a serious minimum. This is all undertaken in an 140 year old home, beautifully preserved. Now...you can stay here too! Amanda's Bequest, a Heritage Farmstay Bed & Breakfast is now available at Bygone Basics. An absolutely fabulous experience while gaining skills you will use to reduce food costs, ensure the safety of your foods, and re-live a piece of heritage that is fast becoming lost. Travel down Old Channel trail in Montague enjoying the magnificent view above White Lake. Enter Bygone Basics, located in the impressive parsonage, now known as "Amanda's Bequest," built in 1874 for the Ferry Memorial Church and then painstakenly moved (Rather than be destroyed). This is a great activity for female friends, bridal parties, generations of families, spouses, co-workers and so on. Each group is privately held so no extra people are involved. It is held in an atmosphere of laughter, great stories, and hearty food. Each Experience is priced based on the number of persons in the group and the type of experience. Times are flexible. Remember....a gift certificate would be a fabulous idea to ensure quality time with a friend or someone else who is special.

6 responses »

  1. I Like it … Very Nicely done !!!

    Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2012 21:13:49 +0000 To: hansdown@live.com

    Reply
  2. I’m still extremely jealous of that food mill, it seems to work so much better than anything else when it comes to dealing with “pulp”. I just visited the local farmers’ market, and picked up about four little pie pumpkins, and I’m very excited about putting them up for the future, since pumpkins don’t seem to be as expensive as they will be when the “season” is upon us. I was thinking about canning mine, but I may freeze half just to see if there’s a difference. Since I live in an apartment, my goal has been to free up as much of the refrigerator and freezer as I possibly can….but this looks interesting!

    Reply
    • So pleased you are going to put up some pumpkin!! You’ll be happy that it is so easy to prepare.

      I don’t freeze much but the safety and convenience of ready to go pumpkin is too overwhelming in support of freezing; as is the fact that it doesn’t take up a lot of freezer space.
      If you do follow through on canning it, please note that your quart jars must be canned in chunks of about 1 inch each and MUST be properly pressure canned at at least 10 lbs pressure for 90 minutes. You then just mash it when you open the jar for a recipe.

      Reply
  3. Amazing! I’m really enjoying the style and design of your web site. Are you using a custom made template or is this freely available to all users? If you do not want to say the name of it out in the general public, please be sure to e-mail me at: leagold@gmail.com. I’d really like to get my hands on this theme!

    Thanks a lot.

    Reply

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