“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
–LM Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
It is so hard to believe that we only have *3* regular season markets remaining. Over the last few weeks, I’m sure you’ve noticed a slow change in the food landscape at the market. Tomatoes and peaches are waning, but butternut and delicate squashes are starting to make an appearance. One of my absolute favorite squashes is the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin. When we first moved to our farm, I pored over seed catalogs and salivated as I was reading descriptions about certain seeds. The Long Island Cheese won me over and I’ve been growing them for the last five years. It is a powerhouse if you like to make a plethora of pumpkin spiced things – my husband even used some this past weekend for his seasonal pumpkin beer he is brewing!
No matter what variety of pie pumpkin you enjoy (you can find Long Island Cheese at the market!), it is very simple to roast a pumpkin and freeze your own pumpkin puree to enjoy through the long, cold months of winter.
1) Very carefully cut the pumpkin in half. Sometimes, this takes a little muscle – be persistent, but careful!
2) Scoop out the seeds. Feel free to clean and roast them. I’m sure there are tons of ideas for different roasted pumpkin seeds floating out in the interwebs. For me, I give my chickens the pumpkin “guts.” Pumpkin seeds actually work as a natural de-wormer for chickens, so if you happen to have chickens share it with them!
3) Put the pumpkin halves cut side down in a sheet pan. Add a little water in the pan. Pop those babies in a pre-heated 350 degree oven.
4) Depending on the size of the pumpkin, it may take up to an hour and a half to roast. Check on it periodically to make sure the water hasn’t all boiled off and also poke a fork in the skin. If the skin pierces easily, you’re all done!
5) Carefully pull the pan out of the oven and let it cool. Once cool, scrape the cooked pumpkin into a food processor. Process the puree until smooth and place it in a colander lined with cheesecloth in the sink. Let it drain for about 30 minutes – pumpkins do have a lot of water and it helps to try to “dry” it out as much as you can.
6) Once drained, place 1 cup (or whatever size you’d like) of puree into a Ziploc bag. Try to remove as much air as possible and lie it flat on a cookie sheet. Once you have all the puree into bags, place the cookie sheet into the freezer. Once frozen, these flattened Ziploc bags store quite compactly in your freezer!
I’m generally able to get at least 7 cups of pumpkin from one of my Long Island Cheese pumpkins. Freezing it in 1 cup portions works wonderfully because a lot of recipes call for 1 C of pumpkin or 15 oz. Take that Libby’s!
Be sure to come out and support our farmers and artisans for the remaining regular season markets – speaking as a vendor myself, it’s harder to get out of bed and moving on market mornings as the weather is getting cooler and the sunrise later. On October 8, there will be a special kids event as the Bridgeport Police and Fire Departments will be there as a kick off to Fire Prevention Week – be sure to come out!
Also, pull out those calendars now – the winter market schedule has been released:
Be sure to check out our Facebook page this week for highlights from this weekend’s Wild and Wonderful Table! And until next week, Stay Fresh!