Monday, November 1, 2021

NOVEMBER----It's Pumpkin Cooking Time!


Well, it's finally NOVEMBER...and Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away. Much of the country is sliding into a more wintry weather pattern, we are hunkering down inside, but looking forward to family and friends for the holidays.

We always learned in school that Pilgrims had pumpkin at the first Thanksgiving.
Pumpkins are assumed to come from the Americas. When the Pilgrims landed the local Indians already had pumpkins and squash under cultivation. 

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Colonists called the vegetable pumpkins or 'pompion' They hollowed them out raw, filled with milk and spices and then roasted whole in the fire into a sort of pudding. No bakery or pie pastry shells were involved as there were no ovens for controlled baking. 

Nutritionally pumpkins were a welcome addition to the Colonists' meals. Rich in all kinds of minerals and vitamins, pumpkins had vitamin C which helped to prevent scurvy. Over half the pilgrims died the first year from the lack of proper nutrition and resulting disease.

Here in the Midwest Pumpkins are plentiful. In 2020 Illinois produced 564 million pounds of pumpkin,  as much as the other top 5 states combined: California, Indiana, Texas, Virginia and Michigan.


Today, we use our own homegrown pumpkins outside as decorations and as food.  After a heavy frost---I bring them in and they become a source of garden produce, and then our favorite Fall foods.


This is one of 2018 pumpkins, growing on our antique cultivator.


Another large one hid in the vines.


Last year, REMEMBER THIS!!!?
October 24th, 2020...The GREAT PUMPKIN!

Now for the best part---roasting!


Roasting Pumpkin for Puree is easy, and ecologically sound,  and beats canned pumpkin---hands down!

 Scrub your pumpkin off, even if it is store-bought. Slice it open. You don't have to remove the seeds, just layer the pieces skin side up in a roaster as high as you like. Pierce all the skin with a sharp knife as much as you want to--this promotes a circulation of moisture. 

Add 1 cup of water to the pan and cover tightly with foil. Roast at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours or more---test by piercing the thickest part of a piece. Pierce to see if  done or I just push down on the humps of pumpkin and see if they are soft right through the foil.  To keep the pumpkin moist, I leave the pan covered until cooled to finish roasting for sure.

When cool, scrape the seeds and slimey parts off, discard. Then scrape the flesh and with the skin removed, process the flesh in your food processor/blender until smooth. If it is too thick to process,  add a bit of water from the roasting pan to process. Measure into specific quantities, bag, label and freeze for recipes. 
 I think this is far superior to canned pumpkin.
When thawing, you can drain excess water out by putting paper towel in a strainer, the resulting puree is more the consistency of canned pumpkin.

Every other year or so, I make our friends' and families' favorite---PUMPKIN BUTTER! Worth the effort and the smell is delicious! Canned pumpkin butter will keep as long as the seals are good.


Why not make some spicy pumpkin butter with me! 

Sandi's Pumpkin Butter

Place all ingredients in a heavy pot with lid

10 cups of Fresh Pureed Pumpkin
3 1/3 cups of sugar (1/2 white and 1/2 brown sugars)
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp lemon Juice
1 Tbsp of cinnamon
1/2 tsp of allspice
1 tsp of ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 cardamon

Add at the end.
1/2 cup of salted butter

Add Apple juice or pumpkin liquid to get the pot to start boiling. Bring to a bubbling boil, and then lower heat to maintain a slow simmer. Stir frequently to avoid burning on bottom of pot. Cock lid open to allow steam to escape, so the contents will reduce. 

Simmer until the pumpkin is thick and flakes off the spoon. It should be very thick and dark. Another test of consistency is to pour a Tbsp of hot pumpkin on a chilled plate. If no rim of liquid forms around the edge it is ready to add butter. 

Add butter stir until glossy and thoroughly combined. 

Ladle hot pumpkin butter into hot clean jars, seal and process in rolling hot water bath for 10 minutes, (completely covered). Remove and cover jars with cloth as they cool.

Perfect on toast, in oatmeal, or in pastries. This Will keep in fridge once opened. I store ours upside down. Remember there are no preservatives in the pumpkin butter, it's just pure food.


How about another favorite

Fall Pumpkin Spice Apple Muffins  Post: HERE.

Don't forget Pumpkin pies, breads, soups are all delicious and very high in nutrition. I reduce the sugar in most recipes. 
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So ---remember, there were no pies at the first Thanksgiving. Sigh!

But of course we can have them NOW and all the other goodies...more recipes coming this month!

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