Don’t Throw Away That Pumpkin!

Filed under :Extreme Frugal Meter, Food Storage, Freezer

So, you’ve got a nice orange pumpkin on your hands – left over from Halloween and Thanksgiving.  You’ve used it to decorate with… now what?  Well, first of all you need to consider the pumpkin as FOOD!  Yes, don’t throw it away – imagine it as pumpkin pies and other great tasting items.  But, you ask, how do I take it from a PUMPKIN to a form that I can use it in for cooking?  Easy….

First, wash the pumpkin off with dishwashing liquid and a dish rag, then rinse it very well to remove all of the soap – you want the outside of the pumpkin to be nice and clean.  Make sure that your pumpkin doesn’t have any bad spots on it!   Now, use the largest knife you can find with a “sawing-type” blade (these are the knifes that you use to slice bread with).   Start cutting your pumpkin up into large pieces and remove the seeds from the middle (save them and I’ll show you what to do with them later).   After you’ve removed the seeds, cut the large pieces of pumpkin into smaller pieces that are about 4 to 6 inches square in size.  Take a paring knife and then remove the “strings” that are still attached to the meat of the pumpkin just by thinly cutting it off.   Remember, the inside part of the pumpkin that you are not going to eat can be fed to your chickens!  They will love it.  Oh, and in case you’re wondering, you do not have to peel the skin of the pumpkin off.

Now, place the chunks of pumpkin into a big pot of boiling water and bring the water back to a boil (make sure that you have enough water in the pot to cover the pumpkin).  DO NOT SALT THE WATER!  When the water comes back to a boil, set your timer for about 8 minutes and reduce the temperature to “Medium” and  place a lid on your pot.  The lid will allow you to use less energy to cook the pumpkin.  When your timer has gone off, check the pumpkin to make sure that you can pierce the flesh with a fork – the meat of the pumpkin should be soft.  Remove the pumpkin from the pot of water and let it drain and cool in  a strainer.

When your pumpkin has cooled down, then you can remove the skin very easily!  Place the pumpkin “meat” into a bowl and mash it up.  We’ll be placing 1 cup of mashed pumpkin into each Ziplock freezer bag and freezing the pumpkin for use later in several different recipes.  If  your recipe calls for 1 cup of mashed pumpkin, then we’ll use 1 bag of frozen pumpkin, etc.   Now wasn’t that easy?  And, you have 100% fresh-frozen pumpkin to use in your families meals.

Now, what to do with the seeds?  Place them into a large bowl of water and gently squish them around to separate the seeds from the strings.  Then, remove the seeds and place on a paper towel.  You can dry the seeds and save some of them to plant in your garden next year, or, you can salt them and roast them in your oven for a nice snack.

I consider this as “moderate” on the frugal meter – but, you could also collect unwanted pumpkins from your neighbors and family and process them as well!   Then you’re taking it to the level of “extreme” :-)    Or, visit your local grocery store or fruit stand right before or after Halloween – pumpkins have been marked down and are very cheap!  It’s a great time to stock up!