Friday, November 18, 2011

Easy Peasy Pumpkin Squeezy...

As you saw on Thursday's Things In A Row, I came upon some free pumpkins in town.  I actually drove past the truck a couple of times thinking "Nah!  Just have to clean it up when it rots!"

Then I thought "Hey!  Thanksgiving is coming!  We can decorate right?"

So, I took 1 big one and 3 little ones for a nice display.

Then I thought about last year when I made Crockpot Apple Butter and it was so easy and GOOD!  Wonder if the same is true of Pumpkin?  Hmmmm...

So, I fired up the old laptop and started to Google Pumpkin Butter Crockpot.

As I read, I found out that serendipity had been with me when I chose my pumpkins because pie pumpkins are the little guys and those are the ones I was supposed to get.  Yay!  My Dad also counseled that you turn the pumpkins upside down and the females have a dip in there and the males are straighter on the bottom.  You want the females.  They all looked the same to me--and Dad (they ALL seemed to have the dip in the bottom)--so, free is free, give em a try huh?  

I also found out that the first step is Pumpkin Puree.  

Now, Pumpkin Puree directions vary--A LOT.  One method is laboriously cutting the pumpkin, taking the skin off, scraping out all of the inards and putting the lovely leftover meat into the crockpot to cook, mash and freeze or can.  

This gave me flashbacks to when I was young and my mother was freezing pumpkin.  She was using one of my dad's fish filet knives (which he kept very sharp--I mean, how do you filet a fish with a dull knife?)  The knife slipped and she really cut her hand bad--stitches folks!  Yikes!  Still makes me shiver!  Didn't want to go THERE!!!!

Several other sites said to hack that baby in two, lay it on a cookie sheet and bake for a while THEN take the guts out and skin off.  

One even said what the heck--mash the outside in with the meat also.  (the author swore that she could tell NO difference when she left the outside on!)

I kind of chose to stay somewhere in the middle.

I got out the surgical tools, a white trash bag and started with the larger pumpkin cut into pieces.   I had read that a serrated knife works best so I tried my Ginsu.  Uh--NO!  Then, I used my filet knife (which I also keep very sharp) and that worked perfectly--Like Butta...I took the innards out of half with my ice cream scoop and even scraped with my paring knife. 

Then I put them face down on the cookie sheet and put it in the oven at 375 for about 45 min.  I had to add another 25 minutes to get the flesh soft...

It came out dry and rather difficult to remove the outside skin in one piece--but I am sure that it was easier than if it was raw and I stood a better chance of keeping my fingers intact!

Next, I  plopped the other half of the pumpkin on the pan with guts intact and  put in at 375 for about 45 minutes.  I had to add another 25 minutes to get it soft...

The guts came out much more easily--no scraping for what seems like an hour with a spoon or ice cream scoop--they just came right out.  Good deal!  But, the pumpkin was still dry and the skin still had to be flaked off in sections.

Next I cut one of the smaller pumpkins in half (thinking "Oh how I wish I had a reciprocating saw.  This would be SO MUCH easier!"--Perhaps this would be a good reason to pop for the cordless reciprocating saw to my Craftsman C3 set huh?  Hear that Santa???  But I digress...)

As I was getting the foil out for my next try at easy pumpkin baking I spied a box of Oven Bags.  You know, the kind you put the turkey or chicken into and then bake it to keep it moist and oh so good!?  My brow furrowed like a cat spying a mouse and I grabbed the box thinking, what the heck!  Can't be worse!

So, having removed the stem, I put the pumpkin halves into one bag.  One side up and one side down.  All I did was wash the outside before cutting, remove the stem, cut in half and put in the bag.  No peeling, no gutting--see the seeds and pulp in the picture?

I tied the bag in a loose knot and put it in the oven at 375 for 1 hour.

I removed the bag and Voila!  I could NOT believe how good it was!

The skin came off in one hunk.  

The guts fell out!  

The meat was so nice and mushy that I barely had to use my stick masher at all!  Wow!

So, with this great info, the rest of the pumpkins were put into an oven bag and baked.

You may or may not remember that I live in a 5th wheel.  My oven is my microwave which is also a convection oven.  I also have a good size toaster oven.  I had them both going with pumpkins and each one worked just as well with the pumpkins in oven bags!  I bet a roaster would work too...

And you thought you only had ONE oven!  hah!

Now the pumpkins were done very quickly and NO MESS, not fuss, no hours peeling and gutting!  Wow!  This wasn't so bad after all!  All of my fingers even stayed intact!

Just a little note here--I use my microwave as a dry erase board too.  Each time I pureed pumpkin, I measured it and wrote it in neon dry erase pen on the front of the microwave so I could remember how much pumpkin puree I had   (the smudges are things written on the microwave as reminders like phone numbers and personal stuff, so I just smudged them out before I put the picture up...)   Another note here--when using the microwave as an oven, the splatters that you may have from microwaving COOK onto the interior!  I guess I should have cleaned it first...

and then I threw the puree into my crockpot (with one of those nifty crockpot liners of course!).

By the end I had 15 cups of puree.  It is beautiful stuff!  So pretty!

At this point I could have put some of the puree into bags and frozen it (canning is not recommended according to many things I read--but many still like to live on the edge and can it--I live in a camper folks!  I don't can and I can't freeze HUGE amounts for long--Okay?--but YOU could!).

Instead, I added 7 cups white sugar, 7 cups brown sugar, 7 tsp. cinnamon, 3 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1 1/4 tsp ginger and a scant tsp of cloves and mixed well with my blending stick.  I also added 7 tsp pure vanilla to it.  I mean, what the heck, right?  I tasted it and declared it good.

The crockpot was plum full, and I had read some places that the pumpkin butter will splat all over the place as it cooks because you want to leave air space so that the liquid will evaporate while cooking.  One place even showed the crockpot sitting on towels with towels surrounding everything in site to catch the splats.  Okay--THAT'S not working for me!  
So, I raised the plastic liner all the way up so it looked like Don King's hair, 

then put the lid on a bit sideways so that as it cooked, if it wanted to splat, the bag would catch it.  Then, I turned the crockpot on high and let her rip for 3 hours.

Oh boy did the camper smell GOOD!!!!  Who needs glade when you have nature, right?????

And it IS good!  I had toast last night with some on--and then I had some more.  :-)  This morning I had toast, put a layer of whipped cream cheese on the toast and the pumpkin butter on top.  OHMYGOODNESS!!!!  It was AMBROSIA!!!!!

I dipped some out for my brother and sister in law, my niece and her hubby and mom and dad (though just a little because I haven't made the sugar free version yet--making that this evening or tomorrow because they are diabetic)  I also gave some to the guy who was kind enough to give away all of the pumpkins!

I froze the rest in freezer bags.   I got this plastic beaker with my blending stick and it was just perfect to hold a quart size freezer bag with the zippers flipped over the top of the beaker which makes it easy to fill and keeps the zipper things clean and easy to close.

I decided to freeze in 1 cup quantities because the smaller bags are easier to fit in a camper freezer when flat.  To close the bags just zip the bag closed but leave just a little bit open.  Then, lay the bag down flat and push as much air as possible out and close that last little bit.  

What will I do with all of that, you ask?

Well, I have read that once you have the pumpkin butter, you can make pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, pumpkin pudding--you name it.  After all, it is just puree with the spices, sugar and vanilla already incorporated, so just add whatever ingredients flip your skirts and enjoy!  Is that cool or what?

I am thinking I might make the Pumpkin Roll with cream cheese filling from the book that I just finished reading.  The name of the books is "Pumpkin Roll".  How original is THAT???  LOL

Today I am going to go and process that last pumpkin (yep, I ended up with TWO larger pumpkins so I still have one) and make the sugar free Pumpkin Butter.  

Then, I am gonna sit and read or watch TV until Gman makes his appearance (he's flying in tonight).  

Then, he is gonna take me out for my birthday!  :-D


  1. I am drooling. I love pumpkin and reading all this has made me hungry. It all sounds so good. And, that was really clever of you to use a cooking bag. I'm going to have to remember that trick.

  2. Well you little experimenter you :-). I always want the seeds, so I clean the insides before turning upside down and baking on a cookie sheet. When done, I hold the skin side with a potholder and scoop out the flesh. I've never made pumpkin butter though! ....oh, and I've never used my microwave as a dry erase board LOL!

  3. You are VERY ambitious! This seemed like a lot of work - and I have to give you credit - to do all this in your trailer! I bet it DID smell good in there!

  4. Whoa!! That's SERIOUS pumpkin preservation - and in a confined space, too!! You're braver than I'll ever be - but it sounds SO worth it!! Hope you're having a great weekend!!!

  5. I cooked and froze my Halloween pumpkin (with no sugar/spices) at the beginning of November. Most of it will go into the Thanksgiving pies. However, after reading about your pumpkin butter I wish I had more puree! How much did your 15 cups evaporate down to?

  6. Labbie,
    Thanks for your sweet comment and visit On Crooked Creek today! That darling planter came in white..."Mr. Ed" and I found the hanging baskets that now sit inside at a Antique Mall in Wichita. The baskets...minus their chains...have given us multiple ways to use the vintage plant stand. Under all the pumpkins, gourds, and baskets are the sweetest roses embedded in the wrought iron. Being the romantic that I had to come to stay with me! Stop by again soon!
    Your pumpkin looks delicious...but my, what a great deal of labor. Enjoy the flavor that can't be matched in a can from the grocer!

  7. Oh my..I am going to have to re-read this tomorrow morning with a cup of coffee..too complicated after having Scotch! forward to reading your past and future posts.

  8. p.s. I too have pics if scroll through a couple of past posts..

  9. That sounds like a lot of work but worth it in the end. I've never had pumpkin butter before. Who would've thought you could do all of that in a camper too? Thanks for the tutorial.

  10. We planted the Baby Pam pumpkins this year - the small sweet pumpkins used for baking. Like you, I used the oven method too, but instead of using cookie sheets, I used glass pyrex, the kind with the sides that go up 3" or so? Cut the pumpkins in half, scooped out the pulpiness, and laid them face down in the pyrex and covered very loosely with some foil, 375 for 1 hr or so, and voila, the insides scooped out beautifully!

    We ended up with too many pumpkins for me to use, so gave many away at both of my jobs, but I still have 3 left that I want to do something with!! :)

    Hey, I think you have the same lil blender that I just got several months ago -- a Cuisinart which comes with its own tall measuring cup?? Makes good milkshakes, hehehehe...... :-)

  11. When I cook pumpkins or butternut squash, I bake them like a baked potato. I make several slits in them with a knife and place them on a cookie sheet covered with foil. I bake them at 350 until a knife slides in easily...usually a couple of hours. I let them cool...then slice in half, the skin slides right off and the insides scoops out easily.

  12. I can't thank you enough! After trying pumpkins in the Crock pot, baking them in the oven without a bag, and than (thanks to you) with the bag, WITH the bag is by far the way to go! So much easier with moisture, time, peeling, and with the guts! So glad I found this on Pinterest! Thank you!!

    1. I am so glad you found it helpful! Enjoy your cooked pumpkins!