Tasty Treat Thursdays: Freezing Fresh Pumpkin for Fall Goodies

Prepare and Freeze Fresh Pumpkin Easily

Adapted from Farmers Almanac by Deborah Tukua (Monday, November 5th, 2007)

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Don’t let that fresh pumpkin decorating go to waste. With just a little effort, you can get a generous amount of nutritious fresh pumpkin for all your favorite pumpkin recipes. (You can even skip a trip to the grocery store to buy canned pumpkin).

The following instructions will show you how to prepare fresh pumpkin for pumpkin pies, pancakes, bread and other uses.

To Prepare Fresh Pumpkin for Baking and Other Uses:

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Cut a pumpkin in half and then into fourths.

Use a large spoon or scoop to remove the seeds, and set aside (Seeds are edible and nutritious too. Save for roasting.)

Place the pumpkin skin-side down in a roasting pan. Add a little water to cover the bottom of the pan and cover.

Place in a 300°F oven. The pumpkin will take about 1 hour to bake, unless you are working with a small one.

Test the center of the pumpkin for softness with a knife. When the pumpkin is done, it will slice easily.

Remove pumpkin from the oven when it’s ready and uncover.

Allow to cool slightly to the touch.

Cut the fleshly part away from the hard outside shell. Chop the fleshy part into 2” to 3” inch chunks.
If the pumpkin will be used solely for pies or breads, process the pumpkin cubes in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Store pumpkin in the freezer for future use. Freeze in storage containers or pressure-can in pint-canning jars.

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To Freeze Fresh Pumpkin:

You can enjoy baking your favorite pumpkin pies, pumpkin bread, pudding and pancakes just by freezing your fresh pumpkin. Here’s how:

Once the fresh pumpkin has been cooked and processed in a food processor, measure quantities for your favorite pumpkin recipes, usually 1 to 2 cup portions.

Measure pumpkin into freezer storage bags.

Label contents, date and quantity and store in freezer until ready to use.

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To Defrost Frozen Pumpkin:

Fresh frozen pumpkin defrosts nicely and should be ready to use in only an hour after removing from the freezer. To expedite the thawing process:

Rip plastic freezer bag open and place pumpkin on a glass pie pan in the microwave.
Defrost 2 to 3 minutes or until soft.

Use defrosted pumpkin for any recipe that calls for pumpkin. It’s a great substitute for the canned product.

One of my favorite ways to use the pumpkin is to make…

Hershey’s Pumpkin Bread

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Makes 3 loaves

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
15 ounces pumpkin
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
4 eggs
10 ounces peanut butter chips
1 cup chopped nuts

Prep Day: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 8.5×4.5×2.5-inch loaf pans. Stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and set aside. Stir together pumpkin, oil, water and eggs in a large bowl then gradually add the dry ingredients, stirring until blended. Stir in peanut butter chips and nuts. Divide evenly between prepared pans. Bake 55 to 65 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes then remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Cool completely, wrap, and freeze 2 loaves. Save third to eat with friends or family.

Serve Day: Thaw. Slice and eat.

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