Thursday, December 10, 2009

Making My Own Pumpkin Puree

Given that there is no canned pumpkin puree anywhere to be found in Iasi, and given that it would be utterly unacceptable to go through the fall/winter with no homemade pumpkin treats, I decided to take matters into my own hands. So I went to the market in search of a pumpkin. Only I failed to look up the Romanian word for pumpkin. I didn't think it would be necessary, because I thought I would know a pumpkin when I saw one and wouldn't have to have any discussion of any sort. I was wrong.

I found a woman who had a large assortment of gourd/squash products, some in the shape and size of a pumpkin. But the wrong color. They were gray. There was not an orange pumpkin to be found, either at her stand or any other. I stared and stared, willing them to be orange. No such luck. The woman started asking me what I wanted, and I tried to communicate that I wanted something that LOOKED like this but was orange. That I wanted it for baking. She started trying to tell me that no no no, I don't want THIS one (gray pumpkin-like one) but THAT one (gray canteloupe-skinned one). I definitely knew the canteloupey one wasn't what I wanted, but she would have none of it. She kept insisting, and then I started doubting myself. I saw that she had pumpkin seeds for sale, so I asked her from which squash they came. She told me NO NO NO you don't want those seeds, they're for animals. Ok FINE, but that's not. my. question.

I was getting frustrated, so I politely excused myself and called my friend Hollie, who informed me that pumpkins are in fact gray here. Crazy. But true. I returned to the woman, more confident of my decision, and insisted that I did in fact want the gray pumpkin. She shook her head at me but let me buy it. Off I went, gray pumpkin in tow.
When I got home I discovered a new difficulty. I had no idea how to cut it open. I have some knives, but none of them seemed big enough or sharp enough to cut through its rather hard flesh. Thankfully some of my guy friends were coming over for dinner that night, and I told them they had to cut it into quarters in order to eat my food. Good motivation. Then I put it in two halves, facedown in a pan with a bit of water and baked it.
I also decided that I wanted to bake the pumpkin seeds, just to experiment with that a bit. I tried a basic butter and salt seasoning for half (on the right) and a little snazzier Worcestershire sauce mixture for the other half.
After about an hour, I had a wonderfully soft (and tasty) cooked pumpkin!!
I scooped it out, pureed it, and had my little pumpkin seeds for a snack. I didn't care so much for the pumpkin seeds. I think because a lot of them were pretty thick, so perhaps they needed longer to cook? Or maybe I'm just not a pumpkin seed kind of gal. In any event, here was my final product, many hours later.
I bagged the pumpkin puree in half cup increments from .5-2 cups and stuck them in the freezer so that I could have plenty of pumpkin ready for my cooking pleasure. I think that pumpkin yielded about 6 cups of pumpkin puree. And I can say quite honestly, the fresh stuff tastes way better than the canned. Having had one success, I bought another pumpkin and repeated the above process, minus the confusion about the gray color, and minus dealing with the seeds. I now have a wonderful stock of pumpkin for pumpkin bread, muffins, pie, pancakes, bars, and whatever else my stomach craves!!


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Liz Spangler said...

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