Sometimes you just need to peel your hot roasted pumpkin right away. You have flambo ham bone pumpkin soup to make for dinner, and the cookies you’ve been dreaming about for a couple weeks. Plus, you need clear the counter where the 3 pumpkins are sitting on the half-sheet pan.
The first thing is to make sure you have cooked your whole pumpkin for the right length of time. I followed the directions here, but roasted (really, the same as “baked” my Chef Betharoni tells me) the pumpkins 3 at at time. If I had thought ahead, I probably could have roasted all 6 at once. It all depends on the size of the pumpkins. It turns out, it was probably a good thing I didn’t, because I needed to work on some things. (click on any photo to enlarge)
Two of the first pumpkins were done to perfection, the peel already separating from the top third of the pumpkins. The flesh inside still had enough firmness to hold together while I scooped out the stringy seed mess. The smallest pumpkin has melted. It was so well done that the peel was too soft to distinguish easily from the pulp. The seeds were not only covered with the good pulp, but half way mashed into it. It would have been hard, but not impossible, to take the smaller pumpkin out sooner. It might have gotten the potholders gooey, even if I got to it before it melted, due to the holes that need to be stabbed into the shell so that it won’t explode from core heating.
So, I decided to make the next batch more scientific. I chose pumpkins that seemed to be of similar volume and surface area. Too much shape or size difference would lead to differences in cooking. My pumpkins were 8 inches by 5 inches and 7 inches by 7 inches. That was some good estimating!
I scrubbed them with the same brush that I clean my dishes with. A couple of the stems broke off in the process, but this did not seem to affect anything about the roasting.
You really do want your pumpkins on a pan with some sort of ledge. Of my 6 pumpkins that I cooked, most of them leaked enough fluid to have run off of a flat sheet.
One and a half hours was almost the right amount of time for every pumpkin in the second batch.
I put on my basic yellow Rubbermaid rubber gloves (that I use for doing the dishes, you may remember that I have quite a supply of gloves) to protect my hands from getting burned. If the stem hadn’t already come off, I took it off. I used this hole as the place to begin to peel the pumpkin. I had let the pumpkins cool for a few minutes, sort of accidentally, but not for long. I was completely comfortable handling them with the rubber gloves.
I did notice that this second batch were not quite as easy to peel as the first couple of non-mush pumpkins, so now I have a better sense of what it should feel like when the fork goes in to test for doneness. A few minutes longer and they would still have been firm enough to scoop the seeds from, but I think the peels would have separated from the flesh as easily as the first. This seemed like it avoided losing as much of the good pumpkin fruit, such as comes off when cutting the peel off with a knife.
There were a few places where it seemed best to knick off little patches that looked more like peel than what I wanted for puree. There were also a couple of times when it was useful to get the peel started with a knife, but then large sections came cleanly off, faster, and with less waste than if I had done it all with the knife. The peel also stuck more the closer I got to the base, so I used the knife more down there. However, I found it useful to go ahead and cut the pumpkin in half to scoop out the seeds; then, I turned the half of pumpkin to remove that last bit of peel.
About a third of one pumpkin in the food processor at a time resulted in the most efficient puree time. More pumpkin than that and I ended up with chunks that just didn’t make contact with the blades even after a few times of stopping and scrapping. If I used less than that, there was hardly enough to make contact with the blades. With a third of it, I maybe needed to scrap the sides of the food processor once to get a good puree.
Freshly pureed pumpkin is much nicer than store bought canned pumpkin. It freezes well, too. I have usually been able to substitute the exact amount of fresh pureed pumpkin for the amount of canned pumpkin called for in a recipe. Occasionally it is helpful to add a tablespoon or so of water to help it puree, but that doesn’t seem to affect using it in baking. Certainly doesn’t matter for soup. Rename your puree mashed pumpkin and you have a nice side dish for a steak or turkey dinner. Just add a little butter and brown sugar. Now that I know it works so well to just cook those pumpkins whole, I will be even more inclined to use up my garden stash in the basement pantry.