Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Last year one of my children came home from a party with a large pumpkin painted sparingly on one side (he’s not one for arts and crafts). I waited the appropriate time for him to forget about the pumpkin and the party (about two weeks) and then washed the pumpkin and cooked it. Cooking a pumpkin is very simple. It’s a little more involved than blanching, but it’s the same basic premise.

Cut the pumpkin in to sections and remove the pulp and seeds (save for roasting). Place the pumpkin skin side up in a baking pan (or pans) filled with about one inch of water. Place in oven and cook at 375 for 45 minutes. When it is finished, the pumpkin just scoops right out of the shell. From there, puree the pumpkin in a food processor and freeze. I filled large yogurt containers with about 2 cups each because that’s how much my favorite pumpkin bread recipe calls for. That average size pumpkin my son brought home made 18 cups of pureed pumpkin and it didn’t cost me a thing. Our pumpkin pie was delicious at Thanksgiving and no one but I was the wiser. Why would you ever buy canned pumpkin? Fresh pumpkin tastes better, hands down. And it costs only a fraction of the price even if you have to buy one.

This year no one has come home with a painted pumpkin and we just might be beyond the age of birthday parties and painted pumpkins. Sad. Along with tomatoes, our pumpkins were a bust this year in the garden. They were attacked by squash bugs and I was so distracted by the tomato disaster and life in general that I didn’t realize it was happening. Next year…

The other great thing to do with pumpkins is make roasted pumpkin seeds. It’s a delicious, healthy snack. My daughter says she knows it’s fall when she gets pumpkin seeds in her lunch. She loves them. Roasting pumpkin seeds is simple. When you carve your pumpkin separate out the seeds as best you can. They will probably still have some pumpkin guts clinging to them. Don’t worry they will wash off or roast off and even if they don’t, they won’t hurt you. It’s generally recommended that you soak the seeds overnight.

The next day, spread the seeds out on a towel to dry. Most directions say spread them out on a paper towel, which you can do, but then you’ll be eating roasted pumpkin seeds with paper towel bits. Just use a towel and pat them dry. You can also use a colander, but this takes much longer and the seeds don’t really get very dry. They roast better if they are dry when you put them in the oven. Preheat the oven to 300. Spread the pumpkin seeds out on cookie sheets in a single layer. I like to spray them with olive oil so that the salt will cling to them. Salt them to taste. Bake for about 45 minutes depending on how crispy you want them and how big your seeds are. Easy, easy, easy. You should teach your kids to do this.

There are lots of recipes out there for flavored pumpkin seeds. My kids won’t let me try them because they don’t want me messing with their seeds, but I do envision a day when I will make the recipe that follows. If you’re kids are less possessive of their seeds and you get to try it, please let me know how it turns out!

Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

1 large egg white
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1¼ teaspoons celtic sea salt
1¼ teaspoons paprika
¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups pumpkin seeds

1. Heat oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray.

2. Whisk egg white in a medium bowl until very foamy. Add sugar, salt, paprika, cayenne and cinnamon; whisk well. Stir in seeds to coat.

3. Lift them up with a slotted spoon, allowing them to drain, and spread in a single layer on baking sheet. Discard leftover liquid.

4. Roast seeds, tossing them several times until puffed and edged with brown, about 25 minutes.
5. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool completely. Gently pry the seeds from the sheet and break up any large clumps into smaller shards. Seeds last two weeks in an airtight container.
Serves 8

A friend sent me the following link that allows you to cyber-carve a pumpkin. Very fun. Check it out: http://www.cubpack81.com/images/carve_pumpkin.swf


  1. I'll be carving this Friday so I appreciate the reminder about the seeds. They usually get thrown out! I'll also try your idea on freezing the pumpkin for pies! Great idea!

  2. Can you can the pumpkin too or just freeze it?Colynn

  3. Pumpkin is one of those vegetables that can only be canned with a Pressure Canner. Another reason why a Pressure Canner is on my Christmas List!