You know fall is here when you start seeing the fields around you turning orange. The once lush green fields have begun turning and are littered with small orange dots. A sure sign of cold weather, hot cider and children laughing in delight as they choose their very own pumpkin.
Today was Pumpkin Fest at the organic farm where we have our CSA. It is such a nice event. We belong to a small, family owned organic farm nestled on 38 acres in the foothills of Boulder County. It is by no means a large commercial operation. Just a great family that wants to share their farm with the community and share the organic bounty it has to offer. Today’s event marked the closing of summer. The end to visiting the farm to pick up our vegetables. To feeding the horses, and bunnies carrots the children brought from home. The last tractor ride, and the last push on the tire swing. All the things my children have come to love about the farm. But today also marks the beginning of Fall and the produce that comes with it. We can soon delight in hardy root vegetable stews, delicious winter squash creations and of course the beautiful pumpkin. A vegetable that has long been recognized as the symbol of harvest and of course Halloween. Ooh, but the pumpkin is so much more. It can be hardy and sweet, and is loaded with beta-carotene.
Most people don’t know what to do with a pumpkin. Aside from the ritual of carving a pumpkin for Halloween, I would say most don’t realize the endless possibilities of pumpkins. And we are talking so much more than delicious pumpkin pie, which I love! There are cakes, muffins, stews, soups, pasta dishes, and even this delicious french toast recipe. But first you have to begin with the basics. Everyone knows you can can buy canned pumpkin, which starts coming out in cases this time of the year and the grocery store, but it is so simple to make your own. Plus it is a lot less expensive.
1 Pie pumpkin, or sweet pumpkin
A food processor, or high speed blender
Pre-heat the oven to 350. Begin by cutting the pumpkin in half, remove the stem and scoop out all the insides. Rinse under cool water then place flesh side down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 1 hour or until fork tender.
When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle scoop out the insides and place inside a food processor and blend until smooth. If the pumpkin is watery, line a strainer with cheesecloth (you could use paper towels in a pinch) put the pumpkin puree in the strainer and let the excess water drain off.
The pumpkin puree freezes really well. Just divide into 1 cup portions and place in freezer containers leaving 1/2 inch head space for expansion. The pumpkin will last up to 1 year in the freezer.
You can use the pumpkin puree in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin.
Don’t forget about the seeds. Clean away any excess flesh and rinse the seeds. Place on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt. Bake at 350 until crispy.