Wednesday, October 8, 2014

We Do The Mash. We Do The Pumpkin Mash.

     We are at it again. You saw that we went apple picking a few weekends ago. Well, I'm certain none of you thought that's all we got! Of course we walked away with quite the pumpkin haul as well. We are a tad pumpkin obsessed around here. Undoubtedly, one of the greatest things in all the world is pumpkin soup. My hubby happens to make one of the absolute best too! Totally planned it that way.
     This year we got the ONE pumpkin that I allow to be sacrificed in the name of Jack-o-laterns and 3 little Jack-be-littles for the girls to color and tattoo. Yep, you saw it here first. We tattoo everything around here and the pumpkins are no different! Temporary tattoos work like a dream on the pumpkins and are far less messy than paint or other craft supplies. The white pumpkin that we "splurged" on this year was especially nice for this technique.

     Now let me just preach for a quick second. Purchasing, even these few, pumpkins that will inevitably be wasted (in terms of food) still makes me nuts. That is why we only do the small ones for painting and one large one for carving. I don't want my kids missing out on what can arguably be a rite of passage, but I also don't want them to become complacent about waste. Adding insult to injury is the fact that they are too young to care about making it look like anything but a scribble or a "design". There is simply no need to spend hundreds of dollars on pumpkins that will just be thrown out a few weeks later after rotting on the front step! Ok, whew, thanks.
     Now don't forget,  even that Jack-o-latern will yield a good amount of seeds. Roasted pumpkins seeds are divine, just a little olive oil and salt. My youngest prefers sweet "pepitas" (so called because that's what they are called at her favorite Mexican restaurant), with brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and paprika, so we always end up making a few batches. They keep for a solid week, especially in air tight containers, and make really excellent snacks.
     Back to the pumpkins...We break down the remaining pumpkins and freeze the "meat". Halve the pumpkin and scrape out the seeds (use them!), I usually use a spoon and elbow grease for this.

     Place the pumpkin halves face down on a parchment covered baking sheet. Placing them face down helps trap the natural moisture in the pumpkins. Roast low, at 275 degF for around 2-2 1/2 hours.

     For best results we've spoken to our local farmers and tested a few theories. We find that the pumpkins that are about the size of a basketball yield the best meat to seeds and skin ratio. They are also more manageable at that size and are never hard to get on a tray or in the oven. In this case bigger isn't necessarily better.
     When we take them out of the oven, we let them cool and then scrape out the meat. We store it in gallon size freezer bags (about 1 whole pumpkin per bag) and stick them in the deep freeze. The mash will be pulled later and made into soups, pies, breads, sauces and whatever else we can fathom. Which is why we didn't season it prior to roasting, we want nothing but pumpkin flavor! One pumpkin, or one bag will yield roughly 4 quarts of creamy pumpkin soup. Don't worry you'll get that recipe later...probably.
I can't wait!
Simple City Sam

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