This year was Emma's first "real" Halloween where she went trick-or-treating and everything, so we got a pumpkin and did the whole carving thing. She had a blast, especially pulling the seeds out of the inside and then roasting them in the oven. (And eating them.)
However, every year that I've had a jack-o-lantern for Halloween I've felt guilty for getting a pumpkin, carving it, and then just having it sit on the step until it goes bad. Pumpkins are food, after all, and it seemed like a waste. (I feel somewhat the same way about Christmas trees, but that's a story for another time...) This year, I decided to do something about it.
In addition to our jack-o-lantern, I also bought three of the little pie pumpkins from the grocery store. On November 1, I spent the better part of the day baking pumpkin and pureeing it to put in the freezer.
I now have 12-pies-worth of pumpkin in the freezer, (in two-cup portions), one baked pie (which I made yesterday), and a dish of roasted seeds. I also made a batch of orange-cranberry relish to put in the freezer, because cranberries were on sale at the grocery store last week.
The three pie pumpkins made six cups of puree (three pies), and the jack-o-lantern made 20 cups of puree (ten pies) . The jack-o-lantern had much paler flesh and lost more water after baking than the pie pumpkins, and it'll be interesting how the flavor differs. The pie I made yesterday was from the Jack-o-Lantern, and while it was good, it didn't have quite as much flavor as the canned pumpkin that I'm used to. The texture was the same as commercial pumpkin, though, which I was glad to see. I'm thinking that a bit more spices next time will compensate for the blander pumpkin. I'm hopeful that the pie pumpkins will have a stronger pumpkin flavor.
Overall, I'm pleased with this experiment, my first time making pie from a raw pumpkin. Using the pie pumpkins was ridiculously easy. Cut in half, bake cut-side down at 350 F for an hour, slip the meat from the skins, whiz in the food processor, freeze. The jack-o-lantern was slightly more problematic, since it had to be cut up, baked in batches, and wanted to dry out in the oven so had to be covered. Because it was bigger and had to drain longer, it also was much more of an undertaking. But I now have enough filling for an entire winter's worth (and then some) of Shaun's favorite pie, and I don't have to buy canned pumpkin anymore! Not that it's expensive, but it's so much more satisfying to have done it myself.....