This is one of my favorite memories of Halloween growing up. Every year, we carved our pumpkins the day of Halloween as a family. We lined them up like little soldiers on the pathway of my parents house to light the way for the hoards of trick-or-treaters. Then, first thing the next morning, my mom would start slicing them down the middle and roasting them in the oven. Pumpkin roasting began the season of homemade pumpkin pies and pumpkin bread from the fresh pumpkin puree. I continue the tradition today.
1. Cut the pumpkin in half and discard the stem section and stringy pulp. I just use my carved jack-o-lantern pumpkins…must do this within about 24 hours of carving though.
2. In a shallow baking dish, place one half face down and add about 1/2 inch of water to bottom of the dish
3. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until tender. The pumpkin flesh should give when you poke it with a fork (kind of like a nice baked potato)
4. Once the baked pumpkin has cooled, use a spoon to gently lift and scoop the cooked pumpkin out of the skin. It should separate easily and in fairly large chunks, if the pumpkin is cooked right. Then simply puree or mash it – I use my food processor.
5. For silky smooth custards or soups, press the pumpkin puree through a sieve or food mill.
I usually drain my pumpkin puree a little too, just to make sure any excess water has been removed. This can be frozen for up to a year. Use in baking all through the fall and winter without having to go buy expensive canned stuff!