Monday, October 11, 2010

Pumpkin Adventures

Last week when my brother, Patrick, was home for Fall Break, he and Dad picked a pumpkin for my mother. I cannot begin to tell you how excited she was about it..."Every time we drive by those fields I want a pumpkin so badly!" Knowing how much I love cooking, my mom decided to wait for me to come home before touching the thing.

For a little bit of background info, our small town in central Illinois is surrounded not only by corn fields, but also by pumpkin fields. The town next to ours, Morton, IL is where Libby's pumpkin factory is located, and 85% of all canned pumpkin is grown in central Illinois. (Think about that this Thanksgiving!)

Eating pumpkins are much different than "Jack O'Lantern pumpkins." While JOL pumpkins are deep orange, eating pumpkins are actually more yellow. And while the outside is yellow, the inside is a rich orange color and so fragrant. Also, this one was pretty big, comparable to a regular JOL pumpkin. After we had begun our cooking project, we realized we should have taken a picture of the original pumpkin, but you'll have to trust me on this one.

Mom found a recipe on for baking with fresh pumpkin. We cut off the top, cut it in half, gutted it, and placed small pieces into three large pans and baked it forever.

While the pumpkin was baking, we separated the seeds to get them ready for roasting. I grabbed another recipe on for roasting pumpkin seeds. Below is a picture of mom and I after we had prepared the seeds! You'll notice our matching aprons that we bought when I was in third grade. We never actually wear them, but they are very festive, so I insisted tonight.

After baking for over an hour, I checked the pumpkin to see how tender it was. One of three pans was done in 45 minutes. The other two took almost an hour and a half.

Pictured below is 1/3 of all of the cooked pumpkin. Once its cooked you have to scoop it from the skin, which was surprisingly thin.

Its not surprising that in the end we had over two quarts of pumpkin puree.

I'm disappointed that I have to leave tomorrow and can't enjoy my hard work just yet. Mom is planning on cooking with some of our pumpkin and freezing the rest for Thanksgiving or Christmas!

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