How to cook with pumpkins

1 Nov 2019

Even though it is now November 1, it is still pumpkin season. And by pumpkin, I mean any winter squash. It breaks my heart to see all of those heirloom pumpkins at the grocery store used merely for decoration. They make great eating, you know. But I don’t bother with the Connecticut field pumpkins for eating. They were bred as Jack O’lantern pumpkins and are pretty darned fibrous. But don’t let those other beautiful heirloom pumpkins go to waste.

This is a fall display at our local Sprouts store. On top from left to right: Rouge vif D’temps, Jarrahdale, and Connecticut field pumpkins.
A friend bought this beautiful Galeux D’Eyesines, a French heirloom pumpkin, for me. I saved the seeds and may try growing some next summer.
I cut it in half, scooped out the seeds, and baked it on a tray at 350 F for an hour. Look how meaty it is! This pumpkins yielded a lot of mashed pumpkin.
I scooped out the cooked flesh from the shell, and mashed the flesh in my late mother’s colander with wooden pestle. This device is nearly a hundred years old and works great. My Mom used it to make applesauce in the fall. You can still buy something similar, now called a chinois. Or you can use a potato ricer. Both take out the long fibers. Mashing it in an electric mixer will leave the big fibers in, which I do not consider desirable. I don’t have a food processor, but that should work too..
From this one pumpkin, I made two loaves of Cranberry-pecan pumpkin bread, and froze about 9 cups of mashed pumpkin for future use. Recipe for the bread is at the end of this post.
In my garden this year, I grew Guatemalan Blue, Mayo Blusher, Red Kuri, Butternut and Teot Bat Put winter squash. The one above is a Guatemalan Blue. I was absolutely fascinated by them. It is a banana type squash, a type I have never grown before. I got only two squash from four seeds planted, so in my garden, it wasn’t very productive.
My Navajo Cushaws resulted in crop failure They kept setting small fruit, but none of them grew. Probably not fertilized. I tried hand fertilizing many of them, but even that didn’t work.
These are my two Mayo Blushers plus the store bought Galeux D’Eyesines pumpkin. Mayo Blushers are highly variable in shape and color. I was hoping for a white one because they blush pink when ripe. Nope, I got an oblong striped green one and a round blue one
The Mayo Blushers are serving decorative duty at present, along with my Glass Gem corn. I will write about the corn at a later date.
I made pumpkin soup out of the first Guatemalan Blue squash. It was delightfully free of fiber and had a great flavor. I froze the extra mashed squash for use later. I will definitely be growing this squash again.

Darned if I can remember what recipe used. My husband is always telling me to write things down. I usually don’t though. (Maybe I should listen to him.) I used canned chicken broth and then cooked onions, potatoes and carrots in it. I blended that and added the mashed pumpkin to it. I suspect that I seasoned it with salt and Herbes de Provence. It looked blah, so I topped the soup with smoked paprika. Voila!

But bake it I did. First I scooped out the seeds with a grapefruit spoon, and put the seeds into a bowl of water for washing. This is a shot taken before baking.
I washed the seeds and dried them on a tray to save for planting next summer.
I got two loaves of delicious cranberry-pecan pumpkin bread, plus a cup of mashed pumpkin to freeze for later use.

To make the pumpkin bread, I started with a recipe for “Easy Pumpkin Bread” from King Arthur flour. But of course I modified it. It used canned pumpkin, which is really a mix of butternut squash and several other varieties of winter squash, and is thicker than freshly baked and mashed pumpkin. So much more fun to use fresh. Here is my recipe.

Cranberry Pecan Pumpkin Bread

1 C melted butter

2 1/2 C granulated sugar (I will reduce this to 2 C next batch)

4 large eggs

2 C mashed pumpkin

1/2 C water (use 2/3 C if using the thicker canned pumpkin)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract (not artificial)

3 1/3 C King Arthur organic all-purpose unbleached flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp mace (I will increase this to 1/2 tsp next time)

1 to 1 1/2 C pecans, halves and pieces, not ground

1 to 1 1/2 C dried cranberries

2 T turbinado sugar for shrinking on top (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease two 9″ x 5″ loaf baking pans.

Beat together the butter, sugar, pumpkin, water and vanilla. I hand mix.

Add the dry ingredients, stirring to combine.

Mix in pecans and cranberries. Batter will be thick.

Pour or spoon into the two baking pans. Top each loaf with a tablespoon of turbinado sugar, if using it. Bake at 350 F for about 80 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Remove pans from oven and cool on a rack. Tip bread out of pans when cool. I usually freeze one loaf in a freezer bag.

You can substitute golden raisins for the cranberries, or use chopped fresh cranberries.

I hope you like the recipe. BTW, I am using nothing but organic flour these days because most wheat (and corn) in America is grown with glyphosate (Round-up). The plants were genetically modified to withstand spraying with the herbicide Round-up. I don’t mind GMO crops in general, but I do not want Round-up in my food. Farmers even spray it on the crops right before harvest to desiccate the crop. I don’t want to eat Round-up, thank you, so I am trying as much as I can to get organic wheat and ground corn products.

Are you growing your own winter squash? What varieties? Has anyone else tried growing the Guatemalan Blues from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds, or Mayo Blushers from Native Seed SEARCH?

About Lou Murray, Ph.D.

I'm a retired medical researcher, retired professional writer/photographer, avid gardener, and active environmentalist living in southern California. I wrote a weekly newspaper column on environmental topics in the Huntington Beach Independent for many years. I also supervised environmental restoration projects and taught at the Orange County Conservation Corps before retiring in the summer of 2016. This blog chronicles my efforts to live a green life growing as much food as possible for my husband and myself on a 4,500 sq ft yard that is covered mainly by house, garage, driveway, and sidewalks. I am also dedicated to combatting global climate change.
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6 Responses to How to cook with pumpkins

  1. linda konrad says:

    I love this article, thanks lou


  2. Mary says:

    Love this post! I am going to try the pumpkin bread….yours looks fantastic!


  3. Ashley says:

    This is my first year successfully growing some Mayo blushers, now I need to figure out how to eat them!


  4. Rick Greene says:

    Where on earth did you find Mayo Blusher seeds? I used to grow it and it’s the best tasting winter squash I’ve found. Unfortunately the last crop was lost , and so no seeds to save.


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