Introduction: How to Process a Pumpkin

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You have a pumpkin. You want a pumpkin pie, or pumpkin pancakes, or pumpkin ice cream. What do you do?

You cut your pumpkin up, bake it until it's soft, peel it, blend it up, and put it in freezer bags. That's what you do.

Growing up, after every Halloween we would process our Jack-O-Lanterns into pounds and pounds of ready-to-cook pumpkin. Here's how you can do the same.

What you'll need:
  • A knife
  • A cutting board
  • A bowl
  • A hand blender
  • Plastic freezer bags
What would make it even easier:
  • A KitchenAid mixer
  • Four pairs of hands (wouldn't that be nice)

Step 1: Cut the Pumpkin Open

Step 2: Save the Seeds

Rake your fingers through the pulp to remove the seeds. Set them aside to bake later.

Step 3: Remove the Pulp

Use a spoon to scrape away the pulp. Some people will process this too, but I just throw it away.

Step 4: Fill Baking Pans With 1" Thick Chunks

Make the chunks about 1" thick so you get nice even cooking.

Step 5: Bake at 300 Degrees for 2.5+ Hours

It's hard to over-bake, as long as you cover the pans with aluminum foil to keep the pieces from drying out. The water in the pumpkin will kindof boil the pieces in their own juices as they bake, leaving them nice and soft for the next step.

Step 6: Peel the Chunks

The pumpkin should be nice and soft now. You can dig your thumb in and scrape the flesh right off of the skin. Throw away the skin and keep the flesh.

Step 7: Blend

You want to end up with a smooth consistency. My method of choice is to run the chunks through a KitchenAid mixer first, then hand-blend for smoothness. You might be able to have success with a regular blender, or a food processor.

Step 8: Put 15oz Portions Into Quart-sized Freezer Bags

Since recipes usually call for a can of pumpkin (15oz), we store the pumpkin in this same portion size. I used a scale, but if you don't have one, you can measure roughly 2 cups of pumpkin to get the same amount.

Step 9: Bonus: Cook the Pumpkin Seeds

There are tons of ways to cook pumpkin seeds, but the easiest is to clean the seeds, soak them in saltwater overnight, and then bake them at 350 for 45 minutes or so. 

Enjoy your pumpkin!

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