Home grown pumpkin is the “norm” for me. Remember my dad the city farmer? He always grows pumpkins in his backyard garden. Some years he plants them in my garden too. So, I grew up eating fresh pumpkin in all my mom’s homemade fall treats like pumpkin bread, pumpkin bars, pumpkin pie, etc. Frankly, I didn’t even know pumpkin could be purchased in a can until I was nearly an adult.
So why would anyone go to the bother of roasting a fresh pumpkin? Well, personally I don’t think canned pumpkin even comes close to tasting like fresh pumpkin. Fresh pumpkin has a light, delicate flavor. It also is much lighter in color than canned. It has a golden/orange tone vs a dark orange hue. I know, canned pumpkin is very convenient and I will admit I do use it occasionally, but I really do prefer the “real deal!”
I was telling a co-worker about a recipe and I mentioned that I started by using Roasted Pumpkin from my garden. She was flabbergasted and started asking questions about how to roast a pumpkin. So, this blog’s for you Joan!
It’s important to start with the right kind of pumpkin. Pie or sugar pumpkins are the variety of pumpkins that make delicious sweet treats, not carving or jack-o-lantern pumpkins. Pie or sugar pumpkins are smaller and more round in shape then the big pumpkins used for carving. They are also higher in sugar content. The grocery store or farmer’s market should have these available during the fall months. Here’s a picture of a couple of carving pumpkins alongside some pie or sugar pumpkins.
I often roast my pumpkin a day or two before I plan to make my recipe using the pumpkin. One small/medium pumpkin will yield about 3 cups of mashed pumpkin. Once you have the right kind of pumpkin you are ready to roast. Begin by heating your oven to 375º F. Place the whole pumpkin onto an ungreased baking sheet.
Poke the top of the pumpkin several times to let steam escape while it’s baking. I just use a table fork to do the poking.
Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until the pumpkin is fork tender. Just poke the pumpkin with a table fork, it should go into the pumpkin with ease indicating that the flesh or meat of the pumpkin is cooked.
Remove the pumpkin from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes. Once cooled, move the pumpkin to a cutting board and cut in half. The stem will likely pull off, if not just cut the pumpkin on one side of the stem. See the beautiful golden color?
With a spoon, scoop out the seeds and most of the fibrous material in the center of each half.
Scrape the pumpkin flesh from the peel. A spoon works well for this too. It should be soft and easy to scrape from the peel. Place the pumpkin flesh in a bowl.
Mash the pumpkin with a potato masher until smooth. Sometimes I blend the pumpkin on medium-high speed in small batches in a blender container instead of mashing it.
That’s it! It’s ready for your favorite pumpkin recipe. If you aren’t going to use the pumpkin immediately, place recipe quantities in resealable plastic food bags. Refrigerate up to 2 days or store in the freezer. Stir the mashed pumpkin well before using as some liquid may separate during storage.
Here are three pumpkin recipes you can try using your fresh, roasted pumpkin. Pumpkin Sandwich Cookies, Classic Pumpkin Pie and Pumpkin Swirl Bread. Don’t be surprised if your baked goods have a lighter, more golden color.
Roasting a pumpkin is really not a difficult thing to do and boy will you impress your friends and family when you tell them what you’ve been up to. I’d love to hear how your Roasted Pumpkin turns out and how you used your fresh pumpkin, so leave me a comment. Please rate and review this recipe too.
Come back in a few days when Liz fires up the grill for one last time before winter sets in.
Becky Wahlund is the Director of the Test Kitchens for Land O'Lakes and writes for our Recipe Buzz® Blog.