Is it too soon to start talking about pumpkins? It’s still hot where I’m at, with temperatures averaging between 85° and 90°. The calendar says autumn is fast approaching though, as we make plans for Fall Festivals and fall-decorated events around my community. I’m sure looking forward to some cooler weather!
Unfortunately, I never did get around to planting any pumpkins this year. Luckily, Hubby discovered some volunteer pumpkin plants in the empty chicken coop from us feeding vegetable scraps to the chickens last fall.
I love pumpkin, so I was ecstatic to hear of the volunteer plants. Because Hubby is not really into gardening, it’s fun to watch him take it upon himself to water the plants and move the vines so they would climb the fence. He has even rigged some “hammocks” to support the little pumpkins.
These are small pie pumpkins that I planted and grew last summer, but any pumpkin will work. If you didn’t grow your own pumpkins, watch for them to go on sale. Sometimes you can buy them pretty cheap after Halloween.
Note: I took these pictures last fall for this post that did not get written until now.
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Prep Pumpkin for Cooking
Rinse or wipe the pumpkins to remove dirt. To prepare the pumpkins, cut them in halves or quarters, and then scoop out the seeds. I cleaned and rinsed the seeds for roasting, plus saved some to plant the following year.
Slow Cooker Pumpkin
Place the pumpkins upside down in the slow cooker with about an inch of water. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours. I actually used both of my Hamilton Beach 7-Quart Slow Cooker and set them on the porch to cook. Using both slow cookers makes it possible get it all done at once and not heat up the house.
These slow cookers don’t have all of the fancy bells and whistles, but sometimes simpler is better. How easy can it get? Cook on high or low, and when done, turn it on warm for serving. They get a lot of use in my kitchen.
When the pumpkins become soft and fully cooked, remove them from the slow cooker to cool.
How to Make Pumpkin Puree
When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, scrape the cooked pumpkin into a large bowl. I like to put the bowl in the fridge for a few hours. Putting food in the freezer before being fully cooled encourages ice crystals on the food.
To blend into a puree, run the pumpkin through a blender or food processor. I just mashed mine a little with a potato masher, since most pumpkin recipes would require using a mixer anyway.
Once cooled, put it in your freezer containers in 2 cup portions. (2 cups is the equivalent of one standard size can) I prefer to use freezer bags, placing them on a baking sheet until frozen solid, for easier storage.
To thaw frozen pumpkin, put a bag in the fridge to thaw overnight. The flat bags don’t take long to thaw though, so I just put them on the counter for an hour or two. Use thawed pumpkin puree within a couple of days.
Favorite Pumpkin Recipes
Here’s a few of my favorite drool-worthy pumpkin recipes from some of my favorite Blogging Buddies. Be sure to check them out!
- Make Ahead Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits
- Pumpkin Cookies
- Pumpkin Muffins
- Sweet-n-Spicy Pumpkin Seeds
- Pumpkin Pie Milkshake
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