Saturday, October 15, 2011

My Day of Pumpkin Puree

I participate in a pretty awesome local, organic buying club. Unlike a regular CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) instead of paying for an entire season up front, we buy per week. For $25 I receive between 10 and 15 pounds of local, organic produce from a family farm. I can cancel or change my weeks at any time. I usually buy every other week. I started participating in the club last March. It went on hiatus during the summer due to Florida's growing season, but it just started back up last week. I love the club because it really forces me to be creative in the kitchen. I receive fruits or vegetables that I've never heard of before or that I don't normally cook with. So one exciting item we received in our box last week was an entire calabaza pumpkin, a tropical variety. The pumpkin had a lot of potential, but I decided to turn the pumpkin into a giant batch of pumpkin puree.

First, rinse the outside of the pumpkin to get any dirt or grit off. Then cut the pumpkin in half. For this job you'll need the biggest, sharpest knife you have. And be very careful. It took a little maneuvering but eventually I got my pumpkin into two halves. Once the pumpkin is split in half, scoop out the guts and the seeds. Rinse and save the seeds for roasting later.

Then go ahead and slice the halves into slices about an inch wide. You want all your slices to be roughly the same size so they cook evenly. Line the slices of pumpkin on a baking sheet (I ended up needing two baking sheets). Roast the pumpkin in the oven at 350 for 45 minutes. I didn't drizzle the slices with any oil or salt because I wanted the puree to be simple and pure.

Check the doneness of the pumpkin by sliding in a knife. If it slides in easily then they're done cooking. Take them out of the oven and let them cool. Once cool, use your knife to remove the peel. When all the peels are removed toss the slices into the food processor. Blend until smooth. You'll need to do this in batches. My pumpkin yielding 7.5 cups of pumpkin puree.

Now, you can store puree however you want. But unless you plan on using a crazy amount of pumpkin in one week, I recommend freezing it. I also recommend freezing it in pre measured portions. I placed one cup of puree into a ziploc bag. I squeezed all the air out and then sealed the bag. This allowed for easy stacking in the freezer. For a quick way to defrost, fill a bowl with hot water. Place a bag of puree in the water for a few minutes until defrosted.

If you live in the Tampa Bay area and are interested in buying local, organic, seasonal produce click here.

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