Halloween is over and you have pumpkins sitting around. What is there to do with them? Around our house, nothing goes to waste. Our jack-o-lanterns (minus the candles) go to the goats and the decoration pumpkins go in my freezer! Pie pumpkins are more flavorful and less stringy than jack-o-lantern pumpkins. I figure the carving pumpkins are bred for size and the pie pumpkins are bred for flavor.
It is SO easy to bake a pumpkin, scoop out the pulp, bag and freeze it for a future recipe. You can bake and eat any pumpkin or squash, some just have more flavor than others! These are especially good pumpkins because they were grown by my brother on his Iowa farm!
First you want to cut the pumpkin in half vertically. Break off the stem and cut from the top of the pumpkin straight down to the bottom. Notice how I cut through the stem??? I don't recommend that, lol. I thought it would look cool for the picture, but it was not easy! Just break the stem off and cut through the pumpkin; you don't want to cook the stem anyway.
After you cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds. I like to use my husband's favorite ice cream scoop. Seriously, it doesn't scoop ice cream worth a crap, but it is GREAT for scooping out the pumpkin guts!
There are a lot of recipes out there for pumpkin seeds, but I'm not a fan. This delicious pile of pumpkin innards went to the goats; they gobbled it up. Maybe I'll get lucky and a few seeds will turn into volunteer pumpkin vines next year!
Place each cut pumpkin flesh side down on a baking sheet and stab each piece 2-3 times with a knife to allow steam to escape. I line my pan with foil so cleanup is easier. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-60 minutes, depending on the size of the pumpkin. When the pumpkin flesh is soft and easily pierced by a fork, remove the pan from the oven and allow the pumpkins to cool until comfortable to handle.
When cool enough to handle, I grab the ice cream scoop and remove all the pumpkin pulp, placing it in a bowl.
Use a hand mixer or blender to whip the pumpkin pulp. I prefer my mixer because the beaters are easier to clean than my blender and the pumpkin is smooth enough for the breads, pies, and cakes I like to bake.
Bag your blended pumpkin into freezer bags, squeezing out all air from the bag. I bag in 1 cup, 1-1/2 cup, or 2 cup quantities, depending on what recipes I have in mind. One of my "bags" did not make it to the freezer however. I ran across these Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Bars from Sally's Baking Addiction. YUM!!!
Frozen pumpkin will keep for up to one year in your freezer. I like to date and mark the bag with the quantity. Trust me...you think you'll remember, but you won't!
So, next year consider decorating with pie pumpkins for Halloween! You can enjoy them as a decoration and then turn them into your favorite pumpkin recipe.
Note: I have cooked butternut squash using this same method and use it interchangeably with pumpkin in recipes. I doubt you will be able to tell the difference after baking with it.