PUMPKIN…MAKING/FREEZING FRESHSmall pumpkins are best for flavor and texture and ease of preparation, however, larger pumpkins can also be used. MUST USE whole, fresh pumpkins, not those used as Jack O’Lanterns!! Cut pumpkin in half (thirds if larger) and scoop out all seeds and debris. (Set seeds aside if desired to make baked pumpkin seeds.) Leaving rind on, place cut side down on cookie sheet or pan large enough to accommodate pumpkin halves. Bake in 275 degree oven 45-60 minutes until pumpkin meat is fork tender. NOTE: After 60 minutes, if pumpkin is not quite tender, check in 10 minute increments. There might be a bit of browning juice in bottom but that’s okay as long as it doesn’t burn. When pumpkin is tender, remove from oven and let cool enough so it can be handled. Scoop the tender pumpkin into a ricer or food processor (even a blender can work in a pinch if you don’t mind stopping to push down pulp until smooth, a bit time-consuming though) and process until texture is smooth. When pumpkin meat is completely cooled, spoon into ziplock freezer bags and mark with the date processed. Freeze flat for easier stacking. Thaw completely before use. NOTE: Use processed pumpkin in pumpkin pies, cookies, and desserts as needed. Be aware that fresh pumpkin retains more moisture than canned pumpkin and adjust your recipes accordingly. If you wish to freeze pumpkin for future pies, recommend freezing in five-cup increments. That way you’ll have exactly enough fresh pumpkin for the two pies in next recipe. Then, all you need to do is thaw one package.
KAREN DOCTER’S FRESH PUMPKIN PIE [Two 9-inch deep-dish pies]2 uncooked 9-inch piecrusts 1 large can pumpkin OR 5 cups fresh (thawed) pumpkin (see 1st recipe) 2 T. flour 1-1/2 cup packed brown sugar ½ tsp. ginger ½ tsp. nutmeg ¼ tsp. salt ½ tsp. cinnamon 1 can evaporated milk (NOT sweetened condensed milk) 2 large eggs (add last!) SPECIAL NOTE: Recipe above is for a fresh tasting pumpkin pie using canned pumpkin. If using fresh pumpkin, increase flour to 3 T. and use 3 eggs. Make two 9-inch, deep-dish piecrusts, either from scratch or use ready made (there are generally two in a pack in your grocery freezer section, NOT graham cracker crumb piecrust!). Set aside. In large bowl, beat together rest of ingredients until smooth and thoroughly mixed. Pour into uncooked piecrusts, spreading evenly between pie shells. Do not overfill—extra pumpkin can be poured into small, oven-proof bowls and cooked separately as a custard. (Great for those who don’t want crust!) Bake in 400 degree oven, 10-15 minutes. Then, turn down heat to 350 degrees for 45 minutes until middle is set. NOTE: May need to cook longer to set when using fresh pumpkin. Check in ten-minute increments after 45 minutes. Cool on racks and serve. If not serving immediately, cool, and then place (covered with plastic wrap) in refrigerator. Serve with whipped cream.