How to cook pumpkin for many easy recipes, including pies, pancakes, smoothies, cakes, lattes and much more.
Although in the USA many people use canned pumpkin for their pies and recipes, in other countries like the United Kingdom or Australia where I live, this is not readily available.
Here are my tips for preparing fresh pumpkin for use in lots of easy pumpkin recipes.
Even in the USA I have heard of shortages of the canned variety and in any case, fresh has to be best I would have thought! It doesn't take long to cook, and you can freeze it for using later.
There are various different ways to cook pumpkin – bake it in the oven, boil, steam or microwave. You can even grill it on the barbeque. If you're going to use it for baking though, I would use the oven or steamer or microwave. Otherwise you may get smoky flavours that you don't want in your recipe.
To bake in the oven:
The simplest way is to halve the pumpkin, scoop out the seeds and place in a hot oven – around 375°F or 200°C for up to an hour depending on the size. It's done when it starts to collapse and is nice and soft. Allow to cool and scoop out the flesh. Scrape the pulp from the shell, mash it or put it through a ricer or food processor. I never waste the skin either. My dog loves it, and it's a good source of fiber and vitamins for her. Don't give the dog huge amounts though. The rest goes in the compost to help grow the next batch.
To boil or steam:
Alternatively, you can boil or steam large chunks of pumpkin flesh until it is soft – it's still easier to peel after it's cooked! Pumpkin takes about 10 minutes to boil or steam depending on the size of your chunks. Try and keep the pieces more or less the same size so they cook evenly. Its done when you can just get a knife through it. Drain well and mash or puree in a blender.
Instead of putting in a pan or steamer, place the chunks in a microwavable bowl and add about 1cm of water at the bottom. Cover with cling film, and pierce a couple of holes in it to let the steam out. Microwave on full power for a couple of minutes, then check to see how its going. If your microwave doesn't have a moving turntable, then turn the bowl at this stage. You will probably need to check each minute after this, depending on how much pumpkin you are cooking. Once you can easily put a knife through the pumpkin its done. Drain well, and puree in a blender, with a masher or for a really professional finish why not use a ricer?
You can freeze the cooked pumpkin for use in lots of recipes later on.
And if you really can't be bothered, why not get a stack of 100% pure organic canned pumpkin which at least you know will be really healthy!