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Baking with Fresh Pumpkin

Food Fitness

The best pumpkin for baking with fresh pumpkin, is the sugar pumpkin.

Sugar Pumpkin

It is small and sweet, with dark orange colored flesh and works perfectly in pies, soups, side dishes, cookies and breads. The jack-o-lantern pumpkin is too large and stringy for baking. Canned pumpkin is always an alternative as well, but nothing makes home made pumpkin treats taste better than fresh pumpkin.

Once you've tasted a pie made with fresh pumpkin, it's difficult to go back to canned. Your pumpkin puree can be refrigerated for up to three days, or frozen up to six months - this will get you through the holiday season and beyond!

You have three alternatives in transforming an uncooked pumpkin into a puree for baking. A medium-sized sugar pumpkin, which is about a four-pound pumpkin, should yield about 1-1/2 cup mashed pumpkin. You can use this puree in all of your recipes that call for canned pumpkin.

Following are some step-by-step helpers for cooking your pumpkin.

Baking Method:

Cut the pumpkin in half and discard the stem section and stringy insides. The seeds make a good snack, so if you wish, save them to dry and roast. In a shallow baking dish place the two pumpkin halves face down and cover with foil. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for about 1-1/2 hours. Once the baked pumpkin has cooled, scoop out the flesh and puree in a food processor or mash with a potato masher or potato ricer.

Boiling Method:
Cut the pumpkin in half, discarding the stringy insides. Then peel and cut the pumpkin into chunks. Place in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until the pumpkin chunks are tender. Let the chunks cool, and then puree the flesh in a food processor or mash.

Microwave Method:
Cut the pumpkin in half, discarding the stringy insides. Microwave on high for seven minutes per pound.

Now that you have a rich, smooth batch of pumpkin puree ready for baking, you will notice it is much more runny than canned. To remedy this, you can allow your puree to drain overnight before baking with it. This is an especially good idea if you are baking a recipe that calls for canned pumpkin -- the more water you can get out of the puree, the better.

Draining the Puree
Line large strainer with a double thickness of cheesecloth. You could also use a few flattened coffee filters, if you prefer. A kitchen towel is an option as well, but be forewarned -- it will permanently have an orange stain! Now that you've choosen what to use to strain the puree, place the strainer in a bowl, then pour the puree into the lined strainer. Lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the pumpkin and place the entire set-up into the refrigerator overnight. You can now use this puree in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin, or pumpkin puree.

Pumpkin Recipes

Sweet Pumpkin Following are a few pumpkin pie recipes to get you started! For a tender, flaky crust, pre-bake the crust partially before pouring in the filling.

Fresh Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie using fresh garden pumpkins are best served barely warm, with freshly whipped cream on top of each serving. Use the remaining pumpkin puree in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin.

One medium sugar pumpkin
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
One recipe pastry for a 9-inch single crust pie
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
Four eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup honey, warmed slightly
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Cut pumpkin in half, and remove seeds. Lightly oil the cut surface. Place cut side down on a jelly roll pan lined with foil and lightly oiled. Bake at 325-degrees until the flesh is tender when poked with a fork. Cool until just warm. Scrape the pumpkin flesh from the peel. Either mash, or puree in small batches in a blender.

In large bowl, blend together 2-cups pumpkin puree, spices, and salt. Beat in eggs, honey, milk, and cream. Pour filling into pie shell.

Bake at 400-degrees for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a knife inserted 1-inch from edge of pie comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Recipe makes one, 9-inch pie ( 8 servings).

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Fresh Pumpkin Pie II

One sugar pumpkin
One recipe pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie
Two eggs
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
One (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk

Cut pumpkin in half and remove seeds. Place cut side down on a cookie sheet lined with lightly oiled aluminum foil. Bake at 325-degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the flesh is tender when poked with a fork. Cool until just warm. Scrape the pumpkin flesh from the peel. Either mash, or puree in small batches in a blender. Increase oven temperature to 450-degrees.

In a large bowl, slightly beat eggs. Add brown sugar, flour, salt, 2-cups of the pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and evaporated milk. Stir well after each addition. Pour mixture into the unbaked pastry shell. Place a strip of aluminum foil around the edge of the crust to prevent over browning.

Bake ten minutes at 450-degrees, then reduce the oven temperature to 350-degrees. Bake an additional 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove the strip of foil about 20 minutes before the pie is done so that the edge of the crust will be a light golden brown. Cool pie, and refrigerate overnight for best flavor.

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Better Than Pumpkin Pie

1 cup cooked butternut squash
1 cup unpacked brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
One egg, beaten
1 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 (9-inch) pie crust

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.

In an electric blender, mix butternut squash, brown sugar, cornstarch, egg, milk, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie shell.

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 50 minutes, or until a table knife comes out clean when inserted in the center.

Recipe makes eight servings.

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Pumpkin Facial Mask

Pumpkins are full of vitamins, and are rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, beta carotene, and a host of antioxidants. In conjunction with other ingredients - eggs, milk, and honey - this mask infuses your skin with vitamins while exfoliating, reducing redness associated with inflammation, discouraging breakouts, and brightening complexion.

The recipe: Just combine 1/4 cup of pureed pumpkin, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of milk and 1 tablespoon of honey in a bowl and mix until done. Apply to the skin for 20 minutes before rinsing and seeing your skin exude a more radiant glow.

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