Pumpkins are far more than just a Halloween icon. They are a delicious vegetable that can be made into a variety of different foods including (but not limited to) pies, bread, cakes, scones, cookies, or soups. Pumpkin is also a good additive to lasagna. Pumpkins are planted in hills. To do this, gardeners make small piles of dirt into hills and fill each of the hills with 4-5 seeds. The pumpkins themselves grow on vines and once they’re deep orange in color, they’re ready to be picked. There are a variety of pumpkins and some are specifically tailored to be carved as Halloween jack-o-lanterns and therefore not as good to eat. The sweeter varieties of pumpkins are the kind best suited for baking and for the following recipe. The standard pumpkin for pumpkin pie (which can also be used in the following recipe) is called Small Sugar. The Spirit and Triple Treat varieties are also good pumpkins for baking.
Pumpkin Preparation (Making Puree)
Pumpkins are slightly labor-intensive to prepare. The most common way to prepare a pumpkin is to 1) Cut the pumpkin with a large knife into two halves (cut the halves so they will lay flat on a dish in the oven). 2) Scoop out all of the seeds and the “guts”. A spoon works well for this. Once the halves are empty of seeds and excess “guts”, only the orange, hard parts should remain. 3) Fill a baking pan with water and lay the pumpkin halves face down in the pan, so the part where the seeds were is submerged in water. 4) Bake the pumpkin at 350 degrees until you can easily puncture the outer shell with a knife, usually about 1-1 1/2 hours. 5) Once the pumpkin is done, the orange pulp should scoop away easily from the outer shell.
Once you’ve removed the pulpy material from the shell, you’re all set. To give the puree a more even texture you can run it through a blender. You can also bake the pumpkin seeds. They’re good with a bit of salt or turmeric.
Recipe: Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread
15 oz pumpkin puree,
4 eggs, 1 cup vegetable oil,
2/3 cup water,
3 cups white sugar,
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour,
2 teaspoons baking soda,
1 1/2 teaspoon salt,
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon,
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg,
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves,
1/4 teaspoon ginger
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour three 7×3 inch loaf pans. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water, and sugar until well-blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans. Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Source: allrecipes.com
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