Throughout the fall, one ingredient seems to pop up everywhere: pumpkin. From coffee drinks to bagels, from pies to cookies, the season just would not be the same without it. Most homemade pumpkin goods are prepared with store-bought, canned pumpkin pie filling. However, this really is unnecessary and unfortunate because preparing a pumpkin is relatively simple and more than pays for the time it takes with the improved taste of the final product.
To begin, select a pie pumpkin. Note that, though available at every store from the farmer’s market to Home Depot, pie pumpkins are not jack-o-lantern pumpkins. If baked goods are made from jack-o-lantern pumpkins, the final product will be edible, but not as pleasant or tasty. Pie pumpkins are the smaller ones. Once a pumpkin is selected, the cooking process begins. Actually cooking the pumpkin is not too hard. The steps are as follows:
1. Cut the pumpkin in half and place it in a greased pan (a cookie sheet or 9 x 13 cake pan would work well).
2. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour to an hour and a half – until tender when pierced.
3. When done, remove the pumpkin from the oven. Allow it to cool until it can be comfortably handled.
4. At this time, scoop the seeds from the pumpkin, being careful to leave the meat of the pumpkin intact. Also, remove the skin from the pumpkin.
5. Then, mash the pumpkin in a food processor, blender, or by hand.
This completes the cooking process and leaves the pumpkin ready to be used in any baked good. Enjoy devouring whatever delicious pumpkin treat is the final product and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing the main ingredient was carefully prepared in a home kitchen.
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